A US cop made an Irish "Blue Lives Matter" shirt that accidentally said "Black Lives Matter"

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/06/02/a-us-cop-made-an-irish-blue.html


The level of explanation required to make this a thing just takes all the fun out of it.


When color is used to describe a person in Irish, it typically refers to hair color

I think this used to be the case in English too- surnames like White and Black refer to hair colour not skin colour. A wanted poster for King Charles II in the 1650s described him as ‘a black man about six feet high’.


But without the explanation there’s no “thing” – it’s plenty fun to find out (if you find linguistics fun).


As a linguist, I have a very different reaction.


tl;dr it says “Black (implied: persons) living physical matter”




At least it’s not a tattoo.

That tattoo doesn’t say what that person thinks it says.

Pretty much everyone in Ireland speaks English, pretty much all of the time. There are a few rural places where the Irish language has always been spoken and there are quite a few people who take pride in their Irish heritage and enjoy the cultural aspect of it while keeping the language alive.

And then there’s everyone else. People like me who had Irish foisted upon them as a child by a succession of talentless, useless, bullying adults masquerading as teachers. People like me who learned to despise the Irish language as an imposition. People like me with very little grasp of the language at all.

Anyway, back to the tattoo. Everyone in Ireland learned that phrase no matter how inept they were at the Irish language. The may not have fully understood the words, but they learned to say the phrase because when all is said and done, that is the single most important phrase in the whole history of Irish culture.

That phrase translates as - “Is there permission upon me to go to the toilet?”



That’s what happens if you think you’re Irish because your Great-grandfather was born there.


i believe “baineann saol gorm go mór linn” would be “black lives matter” - literally “black (actually the word for blue) lives matter a lot to us”. There is no way to say “blue lives matter”. You’d have to say “Police lives matter”. Also I may be wrong but I don’t believe you can say something “matters” in general without saying who it matters too which is interesting.


The world needs less idiots and more cunning linguists.


“Blue lives matter”-- OK fine, sure, they do.

But in all these famous cases where a cop kills an unarmed black man, the cop’s life was never really in danger.

So I don’t get the need for “blue lives matter” unless it’s also saying “black men are all dangerous.”


Blue Lives Contexts Matter.


There’s been a pretty big generational shift in that. Seems to have started around the 00’s. With a lot of younger Irish viewing the language as inherent to Irish identity.

Lot of ink has been spilled over the last decade or so among linguists and in education press about the rapid shift in Hiberno-English in the last 25 years under influence from Irish. Those tiny Gaeltacht have been growing for pretty much the first time ever.

Almoat everyone I know in Ireland speaks Irish frequently, and their regular English is heavily peppered with Irish. But that’s rather heavily skewed towards those 45 and under.


I think that is probably a result of better teachers teaching a better program, better. My nieces and nephews seemed to quite enjoy school.

My experience of it, particularly primary school, was stressful bordering on horrific. All those old school teachers can go fuck themselves. And the priests can go fuck themselves too.


I have an “An bhfuil cead again dul go dtí an leithreas le do thoil” t-shirt. I wore it to my only St Paddy’s Day music gig this year…the last thing I ever did before quarantine!


A lot of my cousins straight up hated Irish down to the same complaints until after they’d been through college. And then suddenly they were all about it around the late 00’s.

It was certified weird dad shit until it suddenly wasn’t.

So that may go the other way. The big spike in fluent speakers apparently starts in the 90’s. It makes sense there’d be a bigger, better pool of teachers following. Right around the 00’s when people suddenly got very excited about it. Along with people with an interest entering into the media and tech.

There was a general increase in national pride in the '90s that probably helped too.

The history of Ireland prior to the '90s was a grim one of unemployment, poverty and emigration. And then in 1990 we nearly won the World Cup, and then we nearly won it even more in 1994!!

And in the late '90s we had Riverdance and full employment and for the first time ever - IMMIGRATION!!! People wanted to come and live here!

And then there was the Celtic Tiger and more Helicopters and BMWs per capita than any other country. And the most expensive piece of real-estate in the world and then all went back to being shit again.

Well, it was good while it lasted.

But I think the sense of national pride stayed on.


Like I say, at least it’s not a tattoo! :grin:

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