Monday, May 27, 2013

Then: the meaning changes

A student wrote to me asking about the meaning and placement of then in this sentence.
The product is then designed with this target price in mind.
As I was explaining that then could be resultative (meaning something like "so that" or "in that case") or simply temporal (meaning roughly "next" or "after that"). I also pointed out that it could occur initially, medially (in a number of places), or finally:
1 The product is 2 designed with this target price in mind 3.
Then, it occurred to me that position 1 could only be interpreted as being the temporal meaning, position 2 was ambiguous, and position 3 strongly suggests the resultative meaning.

Is it just me?