The meaning of Utterance-final even

Min Joo Kim, Nathan Jahnke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This article takes up a relatively understudied phenomenon in English wherein the additive scalar focus particle even occurs following its focus, typically in utterance-final (UF) position. We show that this UF incarnation of even is not a simple variant of its prefocal (PF) counterpart. Four distinct functions of UF-EVEN are identified: (1) the mirative, (2) the elaborative, (3) the simple additive, and (4) the simple corrective. Building on Traugott's theory of semantic change, the authors present an analysis that outlines the developmental path of UF-EVEN: all its functions are claimed to originate from PF-EVEN's meaning, although some are less directly related to it. In addition, the authors demonstrate that UF-EVEN shares some of its developmental paths with discourse markers like actually and in fact, suggesting that it has taken on the function of a sentential adverb. The article ends with discussing repercussions for the theory of meaning change and its conventionalization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-64
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of English Linguistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • additive scalar focus particle
  • corrective
  • elaborative
  • even
  • implicature
  • meaning change
  • mirative
  • syntactic position


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