Posted by R. Berg on November 16, 2007
In Reply to: Now then posted by Graham Balin on November 16, 2007
: 'Now then'. As in 'Now then, let's see who can answer this question'.
: Surely an oxymoron or a redundancy or both. Does anyone know hoe it originated?
I don't know its origin. If its "then" is the "then" of causation rather than the "then" of time," there's no redundancy or contradiction. "Now, in view of what went before, let's see who..."
This "now" isn't particularly temporal, either. It acts as a divider between parts of a discourse, as in the following made-up example, where "now" can't possibly mean "at the present": "The legislature is considering a tax increase to take place the year after next. Now, according to economists, if taxes rise, investment will..."
So the problem dissolves if you construe "now" and "then" using other senses of those words.
In writing, "Now then" needs a comma in its middle. ~rb