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On a poster of the Stalinist era, I saw the following extract:

Будем сынами и дочерьми (...)

Then I looked for some information on dictionaries. If I understood correctly, does the usual (and "irregular") plural сыновья imply the meaning biological sons, whereas сыны is used just in the philosophical sense sons of the fatherland?

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Сыны is an obsolete form which indeed survived in particular phrases like "Сыны Отечества", "Сыны Господни", "Сыны Божьи" etc. and phrases that are intentionally built to sound like abovementioned phrase, like "Сыны Анархии".

The answer provided here is correct, the form you (understandably) called irregular actually is a remnant of special form of plural.

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  • Спасибо за быстрый ответ! By the way... is Божьи itself an obsolete genitive of Бог?
    – swrutra
    Dec 12 '20 at 23:39
  • @swrutra it's actually an adjective ) ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%91%D0%BE%D0%B6%D0%B8%D0%B9
    – shabunc
    Dec 12 '20 at 23:51
  • Oh, I'm sorry! Now I remember that less frequent group of adjectives, integrating words such as коровий and третий, with the "-ий" sequence in nominative m.sing. being replaced by -ья, -ье and -ьи in fem., neut. and pl. respectively.
    – swrutra
    Dec 13 '20 at 0:23
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    @swrutra - Note that сыны is still used nowadays, it is because apart from being obsolete in some usages like “Сыны мои!”, this form has elevated meaning in religious or any other ideological discourse,
    – Yellow Sky
    Dec 18 '20 at 10:43

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