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Why in English name of months are capitalized but name of seasons do not?

Is there any languages that in its orthography seasons names are capitalized?

Is it related to the calender type used by its speakers? For example in Solar Hijri calender each season exactly expanded on three months, so perhaps in Persian, season names may be capitalized. (Formally Persian is written in Arabic script)

Update:

As you know month, weekday and season names often used as adverbs and adverbs are not proper nouns! Even when they are used as noun they are not proper semantically ('today', 'yesterday', etc. are more proper because they exactly refer to specific time but even this word are not capitalized). So if we accept that main use case for capitalization is indicating proper nouns, logically we should not capitalize month, weekday and season names in usual use case, even if their names etymologically derived from proper nouns.

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Have you asked this in English.SE? –  Mark Beadles Dec 17 '12 at 18:17
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Yes, but "Why in English name of month are capitalized but name of season do not?" is a question solely about English spelling and not about linguistics. –  Mark Beadles Dec 17 '12 at 18:23
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The use of capital letters (which I would generally regard as punctuation rather than orthography) is rather tangential to most of the concerns of linguistics, as it is part of a system which is wholly learned, and much more subject to the whims of fashion (or control by authorities) than is any aspect of spoken language. –  Colin Fine Dec 18 '12 at 15:58
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I downvoted your question after your update. As @ColinFine notes, capitalization is an artificial system which does not necessarily follow any consistent logic and is largely unrelated to linguistics. In English in particular, spelling is driven almost entirely by etymology and history and not by current usage. Saying that the "main use case for capitalization is indicating proper nouns" is simply one small aspect of English capitalization. –  Mark Beadles Dec 18 '12 at 16:24
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Can you give an example of weekdays, months, or seasons being used as an adverb? I don't think they can be. Did you mean adjective? If that's the case I offer "New York police" ("federal police"), "Elton John glasses" ("green glasses"), "Beatles haircut" ("short haircut"), etc. as counter examples to your claim. –  acattle Dec 18 '12 at 16:34

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Why in English name of months are capitalized but name of seasons do not?

The first part seems to be trivial. Names of months and days of week (DoW) are proper nouns since they are dedicated to certain deities: Roman for months and Norse for DoW. So they are capitalized as any proper names.

September to December are proper nouns as well for unification reasons, AFAIU.

As per seasons, this question at EL&U seems to be relevant. Quoted:

  • The four seasons are lowercased.
  • Except when part of a formal name, such as the name of an event (Winter Olympics), school term (Spring Quarter 2012), or issue of a journal (Summer 2008).
  • Except when the season is personified, as in poetry.

Is there any languages that in its orthography seasons names are capitalized?

This table suggests that Alsatian, Aragonese, Cebuano, Chechen, Fristian (Saterfrisian), German, German (Swiss), Greenlandic, Jèrriais, Low German, Luxembourgish, Somali, and several constructed languages do capitalize season names.

(Note: At least some of these languages, such as German, capitalize all nouns.)

Also, Wikimedia has a list that says Afrikaans, Breton, Welsh, Modern Greek, English, German, Herero, Indonesian, Latin, Malay, Portuguese, Venda, Xhosa, and Zuku do capitalize month names.
Also, this list seems to be more detailed.
And days of the week, just for sake of completeness.


As per the month names originated from other languages (including those not having capitalization at all), there are various (and maybe controversial) spelling rules, but AFAIK most of them suggest using the target language capitalization rules.
Hence, Thai ธันวาคม (December) should be spelled Tanwaakhom, not tanwaakhom (obviously, except when your reason is delivering a pure phonetic transcription, then everything is lower case).


Further reading:

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This seems to address capitalization solely in English. E.g., Thai does not have capital letters. –  Mark Beadles Dec 17 '12 at 22:28
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@MarkBeadles Thank you, I forgotten to address the question of capitalization of season names. Updated the post. –  bytebuster Dec 17 '12 at 23:11
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Nitpicking, but my understanding was the days of the week were named after Norse Gods, not Roman. –  acattle Dec 18 '12 at 0:38
    
@acattle Thanks, will correct the answer. –  bytebuster Dec 18 '12 at 0:44

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