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  1. #1
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    Terminological Confusion

    In the world of kilts and tartans there are many terms thrown back and forth. I was just thinking some of us may find it interesting in origins, meanings, and what we THINK they mean. I am interested in word origins and how meaning change and mutate over time.

    Here is a start:

    PLAID is (based on) an old word and basically means "blanket"

    TARTAN is a term that originally seems to have referred to the fabric itself, much as corduroy and chiffon do today Tartan was a thick, course, wool made of worsted theads and in a "knit" (2 over, 2 under) weave. Thus, a purist would be correct in saying that only 13 or 16oz worsed wool is tartan he would be right (though most use the term much more loosely). Therefore, a kilt could be made out of tartan, canvas or another material. At some point (it is debated when this happened) it shifted from the fabric to the pattern of colors woven into it. Thereby, a pattern can be a tartan on a non-tartan fabric, such as a Carolina (or a clan) tartan woven in 11oz cotton.

    SETT refers to pattern that the pattern follows. I'm not sure of the origin or history of this one. Now, the sett refers DIRECTLY to the thread count between repeats.

    Often, there is a combining of the above three into the same thing, though they are not at all the same, but different parts.

    Of note is "Belted Plaid," which refers to three differnt things:
    -the oldest is also, and less accurately, called a "Great Kilt" (as it predates the smaller "waist-down" kilt, there is NO need for it to be called anything large or great without a smaller version).
    -it is also used to refer to the fly, which is a piece of tartan attatched to the top of a kilt to approximate a great kilt.
    -thirdly, it is used for a piper's plaid
    As the third is simply a folded piece of plaid flung on the shoulder (no belt), the term is inaccurate. For the second, "fly" is better for it is an upper part added to flap in the breeze. I prefer the older meaning because that is what it is-> a large tartan blanket that is held onto the body by a belt (hence, a "belted plaid").

    What ya'll think?
    I'm I inaccurate? imprecise? off base? lost in the outfield?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    18th April 06
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    Phoenix Metro Area, AZ, US
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacWage
    Of note is "Belted Plaid," which refers to three differnt things:
    -the oldest is also, and less accurately, called a "Great Kilt" (as it predates the smaller "waist-down" kilt, there is NO need for it to be called anything large or great without a smaller version).
    -it is also used to refer to the fly, which is a piece of tartan attatched to the top of a kilt to approximate a great kilt.
    -thirdly, it is used for a piper's plaid
    As the third is simply a folded piece of plaid flung on the shoulder (no belt), the term is inaccurate. For the second, "fly" is better for it is an upper part added to flap in the breeze. I prefer the older meaning because that is what it is-> a large tartan blanket that is held onto the body by a belt (hence, a "belted plaid").

    What ya'll think?
    I'm I inaccurate? imprecise? off base? lost in the outfield?
    Some people call it a "belted plaid," and some call it a "feileadh bhreacain," and some call it a "breacan feile."

    I've never heard anyone refer to a fly plaid or piper's plaid as a "belted plaid," though.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caradoc
    I've never heard anyone refer to a fly plaid or piper's plaid as a "belted plaid," though.
    Me neither. But if someone was to tuck their fly plaid into the belt in the back, it might evoke the image of a belted plaid. A reenactment group ,76th Fraisers I think, does this.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    31st May 06
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    I included flies as belted plaids, because I've seen them advertized as such and called such by people over the years (for the life of my, I can't recall where right now). When I wore Belted Plaids (I just can never remember how to spell the Gaelic name), people seemes amazed that it was neither ironed or the "belted plaid" didn't come off. I had to describe what I was wearing, though they had used the term "belted plaid" and meant a fly.

    Not that they were right, just mis-informed.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    31st May 06
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeathBar
    Me neither. But if someone was to tuck their fly plaid into the belt in the back, it might evoke the image of a belted plaid. A reenactment group ,76th Fraisers I think, does this.
    I've seen some of these guys in during the Kirking of the Tartans at my home church in Atlanta. The fly is part of their dress uniform.

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