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caraidean vs. càirdean (Phrases 2 notes)

In Phrases 2 notes there is:

The Gaelic word for friends is "caraidean" but this changes to "a chàirdean" in the vocative case (the form you use to address people or things).

Is my understanding that caraidean is a newer colloquial plural (and rarely used in vocative, where older a chàirdean got fossilized), but càirdean is still used in speech, correct?

Dwelly in the caraid and càirdean entries mentions only càirdean as a plural (but since it’s an older dictionary it doesn’t surprise the newer form doesn’t appear there).

Wiktionary lists càirdean as plural of caraid, but also mentions caraidean as an alternative plural in the meaning ‘friends’ only (see the entries caraid, caraidean, and càirdean)

And The Gaelic–English Dictionary by Colin B.D. Mark notes:

caraid, càirdean nm ally, friend, (…) note that the pl form caraidean is now often used in place of càirdean except in the vocative, although this appears to be quite unnecessary

Thus I’d guess there are people using three systems currently:

  • only càirdean (conservative speakers, literary texts): tha ar càirdean ann ‘our friends are there’ and the vocative a chàirdean when calling them,
  • both (as in notes): tha ar caraidean ann, but vocative a chàirdean,
  • only caraidean (most colloquial? learners?): tha ar caraidean ann, and vocative a charaidean.

Is that true? Are all those forms accepted in the lessons?

December 15, 2019

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