Discourse organization and the rise of final then in the history of English
The present article deals with the origin of utterance-final then and the functional changes of then related to this development. Based on a corpus study of historical texts it will be shown that final then acquired a variety of functions at the illocutionary level from the Middle English period on, which co-exist with the text-connecting one. It will be argued that the emergence of final then is the result. of a progressive differentiation of structuring discourse in the spoken medium from that in the written one in the history of English. The use of final then correlates with parataxis, where two independent propositions, each with its own illocutionary force, are linked retrospectively. Its origin lies in conditional constructions where the conditional protasis is implied in a preceding proposition. The shift of then to the final position was accompanied by a process of subjectification and intersubjectification.