personification and a zero article [(the) summer/autumn etc]

magic dragon feeders

Senior Member
Japanese
I'd appreciate it if someone would answer my question. Thank you in advance.

According to Otto Jespersen, -----Names of seasons, when used without reference to the particular qualities of this period, thus often with reference to its beginning, or in statements of their mere existence, have zero. This may be due to a more or less pronounced personification: -------- Shelly 642 if winter comes, can Spring be far behind
My great concern is how or why does pronounced personification give names of seasons a zero article? Would someone help?
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I really have no idea what the person is writing about. Seasons usually have zero article, unless you are referring to a particular year, or a regular occurrence:
    The winter of 1947 was the coldest on record in Britain.
    We always go to Cornwall in the summer.​

    Shelley's line would be fine even if all he was doing was looking at the calendar.
     

    magic dragon feeders

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you Uncle Jack.

    <quote>
    I really have no idea what the person is writing about.

    Me too. Especially about "in statements of their mere existence" and "This may be due to a more or less pronounced personification"
    I suppose personification might mean that "winter" is used as the subject of the verb "comes". However, I still don't know the connection between personification and the definite article being added. But so much for it.


    <quote>
    ---unless you are referring to a particular year, or a regular occurrence:
    We always go to Cornwall in the summer.?

    Would "We always go to Cornwall in summer" be also OK??

    I sometimes see "in summer", "in winter", "in autumn" and "in spring" when a regular occurrence is referred to.
    I suppose using "in summer" instead of "in the summer "would be a product of linguistic economy (structural simplification). I'd like your opinion.
     

    magic dragon feeders

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you Uncle Jack

    <quote>
    It is not as idiomatic. It would be fine expressed as a general truth, without "always":
    In summer, we go to Cornwall.

    Does the sentence, "In summer, we go to Cornwall" mean "Every summer, we go to Cornwall"?

    Is the sentence, "We always go to Cornwall in the summer" much the same as the one, "We almost everyday go to Cornwall in the summer period"?

    <quote>
    Do any of your examples without an article have an adverb such as "always" to indicate repetition?

    I've thought so far that the present tense is enough for indicating repetition, even though such words as "always" and "often" aren't used.
    However, in order to mean to go to Cornwall frequently in a particular period, such words are necessary, I admit. Thank you for pointing it out.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Does the sentence, "In summer, we go to Cornwall" mean "Every summer, we go to Cornwall"?
    Yes, although using "every" is a little more explicit. "In general, we go to Cornwall in the summer" might be closer in meaning.

    I've thought so far that the present tense is enough for indicating repetition
    It is. However, English often has many ways of saying the same thing, and in this case it appears to be the way you say something rather than your general meaning that determines whether a season has the definite article or no article.
     

    magic dragon feeders

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you Uncle Jack.
    There is a question I haven't got an answer.

    Is the sentence, "We always go to Cornwall in the summer" much the same as the one, "We almost everyday go to Cornwall in the summer period"?

    By the way my another concern is whether "the summer" in "in the summer" is apt to mean "the summer period" while "summer" in "in summer" simply means summer season featuring hotness, and sometimes the summer period. I'd like your opinion.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Is the sentence, "We always go to Cornwall in the summer" much the same as the one, "We almost everyday go to Cornwall in the summer period"?
    This is the correct word order:

    "We go to Cornwall almost every day in the summer period".

    That said it doesn't make sense, as Cornwall is a county: you go on holiday to Cornwall and then you might go to the beach almost every day, so let me use a different example:

    "We always go to the beach in the summer" means much the same as:tick: "We go to the beach almost every day in the summer period".

    However, 'period' isn't necessary and sounds rather unnatural: 'in summer' is sufficient.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    It might also be worth mentioning that in "the summer period", the article applies to "period", not "summer". "Summer" as as an attributive noun cannot take an article here, even if it needed one in other circumstances.
     
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