Persons Who Need Persons

Michael K. Gottlieb michael.gottlieb at YALE.EDU
Thu Jul 22 18:40:21 UTC 1999

On Thu, 22 Jul 1999, Peter McGraw wrote:

> Anyway, said "authority" (who shall remain anonymous because I've
> forgotten who it was) argued that it was "incorrect" to use "people" as
> a plural for "person" because the former could not be derived from the
> latter by adding a suffix.

Was it implied that "people" should not be used in its own right, quite
apart from its relationship with the singular "person?"  And if so,
_when_ would such an authority recommend the use of "people?"  Is it
possible that the seemingly-increasing use of "persons" is an attempt to
preserve "people" for a more political connotation?  Perhaps with uses
like, "People of Color," or  "We, as a people," which have a more
weighty and political connotation than "Maximum Occupancy: 600 Persons"
are causing an increase in the uses of "persons" as the everyday,
non-political alternative.  My hunch is that this has happened before
(and has probably been discussed on this list a number of times), but
I'm not sure.  Just a thought...

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