Please = wann ech gelift, but what does that mean?

The phrase ‘wann ech gelift’ or ‘wann ech glift’ has even many Luxembourgers confused as to what that actually means. Sure, people use it every day to say ‘please’ but many don't know what it means word by word or where this strange phrase came from.

Let’s look for a moment at the definition of ‘gelift’ in the Luxemburger Wörterbuch:


According to the Infolux website, the German literal equivalent to ‘wann ech gelift’ is ‘wenn euch/Ihnen geliebt’ or non-literally ‘wenn es euch/Ihnen beliebt’. In English we would say ‘if it pleases you’. The ‘ech’ in ‘wann ech gelift’ does not come from ‘ech = I’ but it is a weak form of the polite or formal address ‘Iech = you’. Weak just means that the ‘I’ was dropped for whatever reason. Maybe the fact that we use the same phrase ‘wann ech gelift’ when saying ‘thank you’ in formal and informal contexts, shows, that no one really knows any more where this ‘ech’ came from.

Where did ‘wann ech gelift’ come from?

The phrase ‘wann ech gelift’ is amazingly close to the Dutch ‘please’: alstublieft. Indeed, the Dutch ‘als u gelieft’ is equivalent to the German ‘wenn euch/Ihnen geliebt’ (if it pleases you). This German phrase is, however, practically unused in Germany hence it is possible that the Luxembourgish ‘wann ech gelift’ came from the Dutch ‘als u gelieft’.

In writing, you will come across ‘wann ech gelift’ mostly in the abbreviated form ‘w.e.g.’.