French admits two types of pronominal subjects with weather verbs: il (‘it’) and ça (‘that’). Some eminent authors such as Dauzat et al. (1964: 118), Picoche (1983: 99) and Grevisse (1993: 1024) assume that the centripetal locative adverb çà has in some way influenced the development of the pronominal form ça. In this paper, it is argued that the weather ça is provided with a centripetal locative feature like the adverb çà and that this feature is compatible only with the directional interpretation of weather verbs. Given that the weather ça can enter an unaccusative structure where the argumental subject of the verb occurs in a post-verbal position, it is claimed that the locative weather ça is generated in a specific syntactic position as the predicate of a small clause complement to the verb. In contrast to French weather verbs, which are unaccusative (Ruwet 1989) and which take only the auxiliary avoir (‘to have’), Italian weather verbs can take both the auxiliary essere (‘to be’) and the auxiliary avere (‘to have’) – that is they can take both an unaccusative and an unergative structure (Benincà and Cinque 1992). From an analysis comparing French and Italian, it is shown that French weather verbs taking ça as subject correspond to the unaccusative-directional version of Italian weather verbs using the auxiliary essere. It is also shown that French weather verbs which take il as subject and which do not manifest an explicit unaccusative syntax are ambiguous between an unaccusative and an unergative interpretation.
© Walter de Gruyter