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I read a sentence in a chapter named "The Last Lesson" which was:

That, we must guard it among us and never forget it, because when a people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language, it is as if they had the key to their prison.

I ponder over why the article "a" has been used before "people" which is a plural noun.

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A people

(plural PEOPLES)

- "body of persons that are united by a common culture, tradition, or sense of kinship, that typically have common language, institutions, and beliefs, and that often constitute a politically organized group"

(Merriam-Webster's Dictionary )

Compare two examples from Reverso.context.net:

"Spain was trying to make the Gibraltarians renounce their demand to be recognized as a people."

"Some Governments and their peoples remain wary of this enterprise."

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