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  1. #1
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    Plaid is a blanket

    I've noticed on this forum that there's considerable use of the word "plaid" when referring to the Tartan. I understand that on the other side of the atlantic (ie that more to the west of Scotland) that this is the prevailing practice. (Although do Canadians do this or just Americans)?

    As I understand it a plaid is the Gaelic word for a blanket.

    Tartan is the term used in Scotland and the rest of the British Isles for the pattern of colours which in modern terms form a clan or regional, or regimental or other group identity, although there is some speculation that the word itself may be French in origin. Breacan is the Gaelic name for it.

    So although I understand that the word Plaid is in common use by our transatlantic off spring how and where did this originate and why has it become common practice there? I am aware that in America occasionally archaic words or pronounciations have survived when they hsve been lost or 'gentrified' and that even Gaelic was well established in certain areas at certain points).

    Even among forum members I see the word Plaid used instead of tartan and one would consider them to be in a position of being slightly more knowlegable.

    Discuss and debate...
    Last edited by Allan Thomson; 27th December 18 at 03:31 AM.

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  3. #2
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    As far as I am aware a "plaid" or "plaidie" is a length of tartan worn pinned or draped over one shoulder although I am aware that non-Scots frequently confuse the two, referring to tartan as plaid. Perhaps their early introduction to tartan was a tartan blanket which is a plaid and they have come to associate everything else in tartan as plaid accordingly.

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  5. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdinSteve View Post
    As far as I am aware a "plaid" or "plaidie" is a length of tartan worn pinned or draped over one shoulder although I am aware that non-Scots frequently confuse the two, referring to tartan as plaid. Perhaps their early introduction to tartan was a tartan blanket which is a plaid and they have come to associate everything else in tartan as plaid accordingly.
    That's basically it although to be historically correct, the Gaelic term is plaide whereas plaid means a seed potatoe.

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  7. #4
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    Although I've been away for some time, I do feel the need to chime in on this particular question. I feel I have some expertise owing to the fact that:

    A. I am an American, and
    B. I have an English degree, and
    C. I am old, and I know stuff.

    This, however, is mostly surmise and common sense.

    The word plaide or plaid, as used in our context here, almost exclusively refers to a length of tartan material as pointed out above. To those who are uninitiated in the technical term, tartan, it could--and likely is--inferred to mean the pattern of of the material itself.

    In the US, away from those of Scottish descent or those who have a working knowledge of such things, the word refers to any criss-cross patterned material, whether actually tartan or not. (Does anyone actually used the term, bumby tartan?)

    On a final, yet related note, it is pronounced to rhyme with add and is always spelled p-l-a-i-d. "Pladd." Most Americans are only familiar with Black Watch tartan; the rest is just "pladd."

    I can just see a Scot getting off a ship, wrapped in his nice, warm plaide, being asked what the lovely thing he was wearing might be. "Why, it a plaide, laddy." "Oh," thinks the American at the dock, "I sure do like that pladd pattern."

    Just one more example of "two nations separated by a common language." LOL
    Jim Killman
    Philosopher, Teacher of English and Math, Soldier of Fortune, Bon Vivant, Heart Transplant Recipient, Knight of St. Andrew (among other knighthoods)
    Freedom is not free, but the US Marine Corps will pay most of your share.

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  9. #5
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    Here is the entry for "plaid" in the Scottish National Dictionary"
    http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/plaid
    The word is (almost) always pronounced "played" in Scotland. And, yes, the term "bumbee tartan" is quite often used to describe any tartan that is somewhat removed from the traditional (pre-1970?) tartans.

    Alan

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  11. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by thescot View Post

    I can just see a Scot getting off a ship, wrapped in his nice, warm plaide, being asked what the lovely thing he was wearing might be. "Why, it a plaide, laddy." "Oh," thinks the American at the dock, "I sure do like that pladd pattern."

    Just one more example of "two nations separated by a common language." LOL
    This has been my experience in Canada as well, although many people do know the difference and use the terms correctly.
    "Touch not the cat bot a glove."

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  13. #7
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    The way that I think about it is -

    Plaide - with an e and pronounced with a long A - is a blanket. Something you throw over your shoulders to keep warm. A blanket may be woven in a solid color, Tweed, alternating stripes or heck, even tie-dyed.

    Plaid - without the e and pronounced with a short A - is a fabric of alternating colored stripes. Madras shorts are made from a plaid fabric.

    Tartan - is a specific pattern of alternating stripes. The definition used to be that the warp and weft were the same, forming squares, and there are at least two pivot points where if folded on the pivot it forms a mirror image. (The Welsh Tartans do not fit this definition).

    So all Tartans are plaids, but not all plaids are Tartan, and a plaide may be plaid or Tartan.
    Last edited by Steve Ashton; 27th December 18 at 01:16 PM.
    Steve Ashton
    www.freedomkilts.com
    Skype (webcam enabled) thewizardofbc
    I wear the kilt because:
    Swish + Swagger = Swoon.

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  15. #8
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    Iíve often wondered if the American usage of the term may not have arisen from the pioneers making hunting shirts from old blankets. Thus a plaid(e) became a plaid shirt and with usage, the word came to be associated with the pattern rather than the original item.
    'A damned ill-conditioned sort of an ape. It had a can of ale at every pot-house on the road, and is reeling drunk. "

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  17. #9
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    Here in the U.S. one of the largest providers of tartan/plaid shirts is L.L. Bean in Maine. Interestingly they use several terms to describe shirts with the pattern. But they always use the term tartan when associated with a specific clan: i.e. Buchanan Tartan Shirt or Royal Stewart Tartan shirt. But for a "fashion tartan" they will use things like Chambray Plaid Shirt. But then again they have several shirts called "Scotch Tartan" or "mini-tartan"

    So it seems that unless they know a specific pattern is a Clan Tartan, they use plaid or tartan interchangeably.
    President, Clan Buchanan Society International

  18. #10
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    My into into the kilted lifestyle was via 18th Century reenacting and the study of period documents. Plaid & Plaids is what they were called in the period, by Scotsmen writing in English, both Regimental Commanders and Quartermasters. Tartan was what hose were made of.

    That will always be my default setting when it comes to the words to describe what I wrap about me and cover my feet.

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