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a linguistic category expressing relationship to participation in the act of speech. It is usually divided into three designations—the first person, indicating the one who is speaking; the second person, meaning the one to whom speech is addressed; and the third person, meaning a nonparticipant in the act of speech.
In many languages of the world (including Mongolian and Dravidian, as well as some Caucasian, African, and American Indian languages) the first-person plural (and dual) permits a distinction of inclusiveness (“we, including you”) and exclusiveness (“we, excluding you”). In a number of languages the expression of the person of the object of action appears regularly in the verb; for example, Koryak tug’etgi, “I awaited you,” and tug’etyn, “I awaited him.”
In the system of personal pronouns person is the main category and can be complexly interwoven with the categories of number, spatial orientation, and others.
In some languages the category of person, being grammatical, is expressed morphologically, primarily in the verb (Russian chitaiu, chitaesh,’ chitaet—”I read,” “you read,” “he reads”). In other languages the verb has one form for different persons (in Danish all the present-tense forms of “read” are laeser and in Malayalam, vāyikkunnu). Sometimes person is also regularly expressed as part of a noun, for example, in Hungarian házam, “my house” and házad, “your house.”
B. IU. GORODETSKII