First Person Plural
James Ming Chen
Michigan State University - College of Law
July 9, 2006
Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-30
Like most other Indo-European languages, English does not distinguish between the inclusive and exclusive uses of the first person plural. By contrast, languages as diverse as Tok Pisin, Samoan, Taiwanese, and Cherokee take care to distinguish between first person plural pronouns that include the listener and those that exclude the listener. This linguistic difference sheds light on the use of we throughout the foundational documents and the authoritative interpretations of the American constitutional tradition.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 8
Keywords: linguistics, constitutional law, Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Supreme Court, pronouns
Date posted: July 11, 2006 ; Last revised: March 11, 2008
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