Edited by Laure Gardelle, Laurence Vincent-Durroux and Hélène Vinckel-Roisin
[Studies in Language Companion Series 228] 2023
► pp. 53–70
This chapter examines the non-referential status frequently ascribed to ambient it (i.e. the pronoun it used with weather verbs and expressions of time and distance). In line with Langacker (2011), I aim to show that this use of the pronoun it is in fact referential. First, I examine the reasons why ambient it is traditionally denied a referential status and propose counter arguments. I then argue that a speaker always conveys a referential intention when using ambient it (frequently accompanied by an ostension gesture). The pointed referent, although completely obvious, is vague and difficult to name and delimit. Finally, I analyze cases that share characteristics with ambient it but that cannot be entirely included in the same category.