The Uses of the English Language – What Are People?
A people is a totality of people regarded collectively as a single body. It is a political entity defined by the inhabitants of a nation or state as having their own political, social, cultural and economic traditions and culture. People generally refer to other people as members of their group or community or even neighbors. There are several definitions and classifications of people in the modern world.
There are people who consider themselves as such. One could also describe such people as members of an ethnic group or nationality. The modern nation states have recognized different cultures, traditions, languages and even ideas that are practiced by the citizens within their jurisdiction. Such people may be from the same ethnic group or they may belong to an ethnic group that identifies with certain linguistic or cultural traditions. But this does not give an automatic right to be treated as a member of another ethnicity just because they belong to the same linguistic group or because they have the same cultural heritage.
In legal dictionaries, people are grouped into several groups. Within these groups, there are two major categories: the word people and the people of another ethnicity or group. The word people refers to individuals who are members of a particular culture and language while the word of another ethnicity or group specifically refers to members of a nation or state.
Persons can also be legally defined as a single person, male or female, old or young. However, for legal purposes, persons can only be defined as having one person at birth or as having a single sex at birth, according to the laws of some countries like Canada. Another way to categorize persons is according to their rights and place in society. For example, a person who has the status of a citizen by virtue of the law can be legally defined as one person while a person who has the status of a minor can be legally defined as two persons.
Historically, people were grouped into four different types of ethnic groups. These four groups were the Caucasians, the Black race or native Americans, the Indians and the Chinese. In English-speaking countries, the names of the four peoples sometimes coincide while sometimes they do not. Some countries, especially those that have majority ethnic Chinese population, refer to the Chinese as Chinese people while in other countries they use the term just Chinese.
In legal contexts, persons can also be classified as one, two, or three, these depending on how they are spelled and on how these words are written in the alphabet. Some words for which there are only one spelling and no others are pronouns such as we, weself, he/she and him/her. In legal contexts, however, such as in the United States, it is more common for people to write persons’ first names and last names in addition to a common first or middle name. Similarly, it is common for people to use indefinite pronouns in addition to definite pronouns.