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I've noticed in both Skyrim and Elder Scrolls Online that Khajiit don't use first-person pronouns, instead saying things like "Khajiit will follow" or "this one will head north."

Is there a reason for this in the series' lore?

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    djsmiley2k wonders, why do others speak in 1st person, when talking of themselves. – djsmiley2k - CoW Jun 25 '16 at 21:36
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    ardaozkal is confused, and thinks that the comments section will be wiped. – Ave Jun 25 '16 at 21:57
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Khajiit sometimes do speak in the first-person

For instance, the following in-game writings have it:

Sometimes they mix using third-person and first-person, even in the same sentence!

  • Increased Bandit Activity
    • Karpu-sa [the person writing this letter] has contracted with a pair of mercenaries to help deal with these dangers, but not all of my kin are able to do so. When can we expect patrols to resume?

So why do they usually speak in the third-person?

The most direct answer we get is from the Khajiit named Pacrooti, found in The Elder Scrolls Online:

Speaking in the first-person is something Pacrooti will never be able to grasp, he thinks. Pacrooti has trouble understanding those Khajiit who have mastered that nuance of the common tongue. Combining that speech with a Khajiiti rasp and accent, and it sounds to Pacrooti like a little Man or Mer speaking out of a Khajiit face. Most disturbing.

This suggests that speaking in the first-person is not a natural part of Ta'agra, the Khajiit language, and that some Khajiit struggle with doing it. Furthermore, there is a belief that speaking in the first-person is a defining attribute of Men and Mer (i.e. elves) and that Khajiit who adopt this may appear to be Khajiit on the outside, but are not actually behaving like one.

There is also an explanation in the in-game book Ahzirr Traajijazeri, written by an anonymous Khajiit (and which extensively uses the first-person), but it's not clear if it is true or to what extent it applies to language:

The Khajiit mind is not engineered for self-reflection. We simply do what we do, and let the world be damned. To put into words and rationalize our philosophy is foreign, and I cannot guarantee that even after reading this, you will understand us.

If we take this writing as truth (and being propaganda, it's not clear that we should), then it would suggest that the Khajiit do not naturally think about themselves. If this were reflected in the language, then it would explain why there would be no first-person constructs in their own language because they think about themselves the same way that they think about others. Additionally, Khajiit philosophy is more understood than talked about, meaning that they are not accustomed to explaining their perspectives.

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    Would +1 again for the link to Ahzirr Traajijazeri if I could. – Zinzire Jun 25 '16 at 21:45
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It appears some Khajiit use third person, some use first.

Speaking in the first-person is something Pacrooti will never be able to grasp, he thinks. Pacrooti has trouble understanding those Khajiit who have mastered that nuance of the common tongue. Combining that speech with a Khajiiti rasp and accent, and it sounds to Pacrooti like a little Man or Mer speaking out of a Khajiit face. Most disturbing.

-- Pacrooti, one of the hirelings in ESO.

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