Remarks on the Syntax and Semantics of Day Designators

Noûs 35 (s15):291 - 333 (2001)
Though these expressions are often called “names of months”, there is good reason to hold that they are not names at all. Syntactically, these words behave as count nouns. They combine with determiners such as ‘every’, ‘many’, ‘exactly three’ etc. to form restricted quantifiers:3 (1) Every January I go skiing. (2) I spent many Januarys at Squaw Valley. (3) I wasted exactly three Januarys in Bakersfield. Like other count nouns, they can take relative clauses in constructions such as (1)-(3): (1a) Every January that you visited we went skiing. (2a) I spent many Januarys that I will never forget at Squaw Valley. (3a) I wasted three Januarys that seemed interminable in Bakersfield. They also combine with the copula, indefinite article and adjectival modifiers to form predicates in the way that other count nouns do: (4) The first full month I lived in Northern California was a pleasant July. Further, it is generally held that only constituents of the same syntactic category can be conjoined. And as the following example shows, ‘January’ can be conjoined with other count nouns:4 (5) All Januarys and funerals last too long. Thus distributional evidence strongly suggests that ‘January’, ‘February’, etc. are count nouns. Since in general we take count nouns to express properties, we ought to take ‘January’, ‘February’ etc. to express properties as well.5 We shall return to the question of what properties such words express below. For now, we shall stick with syntax
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