The Temple Bells

Hi, there! It’s a lovely morning, the sounds of temple bells ringing somewhere… harbinger (indication, omen) of hope and a promise of good things to come- by… that was my Facebook status yesterday, but morning today is equally good, if not better. This early morning spectacle (sight) of newspaper vendors running hither and thither (from one place to another), milkmen cycling away to deliver milk– the indispensable (essential) product and…well, watching this entire hustle and bustle (busy activity, energy and excitement) is so pleasing.
Right, I leave the balcony and get back to keying in the article. Today, there’s a query from Batul Charniwala and I am taking it up here because it is a very common question that many would want to know.
Batul says:
Hey Surabhi,
I want to ask you a question related to grammar. Is ‘PERSONS’ a correct word? If we say ‘person’ then it is singular and the plural is ‘People’. So can we say ‘Persons’ also instead of ‘People’?
Hope you to reply soon.
Thanks & Regards,
Batul
Batul, the two words ‘person’ and ‘people’ mean the same, except that the number changes—’person’ is singular and ‘people’ is plural. Both the words come from Latin- ‘person’ comes from ‘persona’, which means ‘the mask of an actor’ or ‘a character in a play’; ‘people’ comes from ‘populum’.
Coming back to your question—is it alright to use ‘persons’? The Oxford English Dictionary and Thesaurus defines ‘person’ as ‘an individual human being, living body of human being’ and for its plural the thesaurus says, ‘see people’, which means that the plural of ‘person’ is ‘people’ and not ‘persons’.
However, it is said that in the Victorian times there was a rule that if the number of people can be counted, then ‘persons’ is to be used (There were 30 persons were present at the function.), but if the number is uncountable then ‘people’ (People crowded to see the film star.) is the correct word.
This rule has lost its value in the modern times and ‘people’ is preferred to ‘persons’ to connote the plural usage—whether countable or uncountable. I suppose that answers your question!
And since I have used the term ‘Victorian Age’ let me explain it too-
The period took its name from Queen Victoria who ruled during this time– June 1837 to January 1901. The period, under the regime (rule) of the queen, saw both progress and poverty, it was a period in which England flourished politically and economically; it was also the period when the social values started becoming defunct (useless). And it was to arrest this that the queen brought in strict moral conduct and became famous for it.
Even today, the term ‘Victorian’ is associated with ‘prudery’ (narrow- mindedness); it is used sarcastically (to make fun of), though.
There are many things that I would like to tell you all about the Victorian Era, which I will too in the next article, but one interesting thing about the people of the Victorian Age was that they always wanted to appear prim (high- minded) and to achieve this they went to any extent.
One of the examples of their prudishness is that the entrance to their bathrooms were made to look like cupboards or the entrance to another room and if they could not afford to use aesthetics for want of money, then the bathroom would be covered by a curtain. The reason being the bodily functions were considered to be embarrassing and thus to be kept under covers.
This is it for today!
Key in a mail to me on: surabhi.pillai@gmail.com
Keep smiling…

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