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Thread: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

  1. #381
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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    I don't think most AE speakers would laugh at "If you think X, you've got another think coming." It might sound unfamiliar to them, but the think-think wordplay connection is obvious.
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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    Quote Originally Posted by -mack- View Post
    I don't think most AE speakers would laugh at "If you think X, you've got another think coming." It might sound unfamiliar to them, but the think-think wordplay connection is obvious.
    I would laugh at the wordplay. It's obvious humor has already been mentioned in its defence.

    In fact, now I do remember hearing the think version once a long time ago. I thought the girl was making a joke, but others in our company attacked her version as plain wrong. I had no idea she had probably never heard it any other way.

    What I find interesting about the Ngram counts is the use of "another thing coming" in the early 1800s. I assume they had a completely different context, but I just wonder...

    For non-natives, I would recommend using a version you understand, whichever that is, and being prepared to explain it.

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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    Quote Originally Posted by panjandrum View Post
    I thought I would toss in a small suggestion for all those who are interested in the Ngram analyses.

    Take a look at some of the actual examples that are being counted for "thing".
    My very superficial look revealed something interesting.

    "another thing coming", AE sources.
    4 probably genuine examples.
    4 examples pointing out that "thing" is an alteration of the "think" version.
    Somehow an alternative version arose: 'You've got another thing coming.'
    1001 Commonly Misused...
    The Oxford Guide to Etymology
    101 Questions about the English language ... "thing" is a result of linguistic Chinese whispers.
    1 example of a dictionary that permits either version.
    1 example that is using the phrase in a completely different context

    So, that amounts to four genuine examples from the first ten.

    I'm not drawing any conclusion from this, but I would like to suggest that it is unwise to draw conclusions from such counts without deeper inspection of the underlying data.
    If you include "got" in the phrase and look at early citations, (to 1927) you find most fit the discussion and some even have quotes around the word "think" as if, back then, some editors thought it was a new usage as a noun. (That link to such an example may not work for everyone, but it's in the lisings of the previous link!)
    Last edited by JulianStuart; 20th November 2012 at 12:30 AM.
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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biffo View Post
    An interesting point but not good enough in its present form. Hungarians manage to communicate between themselves perfectly well without using a word of English. That doesn't mean to say that Hungarian should be counted as valid English. We have to draw the line somewhere. I choose to draw the line between correct and incorrect English. If you don't do that, there is no point to this forum.
    If I thought that educated people avoided the "thing" version and uneducated people preferred the "think" version, I would perhaps call the "thing" nonstandard. I know of no such evidence. They are both idioms, used in identical situations, by educated people, and logical arguments against one version or the other are just as pointless as arguing against the use of an idiom such as "raining cats and dogs" on the basis that it is literally untrue.

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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    Quote Originally Posted by Einstein View Post
    However old "another thing/think coming" may be, it has remained a slang expression that no one would use in a remotely formal situation. It is precisely the fact that it is usually spoken and not written that leaves such a lot of doubt about the spelling. Since when did we debate about the correctness or otherwise of slang?
    Just because a term may never be used "in a remotely formal situation" does not make it "slang." The "think/thing" idiom may very well be "informal," however, and this can be subcategorized into "informal standard" and "informal nonstandard." This distinction not only is recognized by linguists today but goes back all the way to the beginning of the twentieth century, used—with other terms, including "standard colloquial," but the concept was the same— in the works of linguist George Philip Krapp. We can certainly discuss whether an expression falls into one category or the other. As I pointed out in my previous post, the "thing" version is used by educated people, and thus falls within the category of standard, just like the "think" version. If someone wishes to argue that the "think" idiom is worthy of being included in the category of standard formal, then I would put the "thing" version in the same category.

    My own take on the "think/thing" expression is that it is just too rude for me to consider using it.

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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    "It's cheap at half the price"
    Well known British English expression. A little dated now perhaps, but still in use. Does it make sense? No. Has it been used for decades, if not centuries? Yes.
    It seems its origin was a phrase that says "Cheap at twice the price", but it was mangled into "cheap at half the price" and is used by people every day. You can say all you like that the phrase is wrong, but it's being used, recognised, exchanged all the time.
    Same with "thing" or "think". Nobody's right or wrong. They are both being used.
    End of story

    PS please don't take the thread even more off course by discussing the phrase "cheap at half the price". That's not my aim!

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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    Quote Originally Posted by lucas-sp View Post

    That's why the only possible argument that can stand as fully satisfying is one that takes into account a split in usage. There are at least two forms of the saying possible today. This may not have always been the case, but it does seem like there is evidence suggesting that there were multiple forms of the saying quite near the point of its emergence. I would like to propose that we try to discuss the split - who uses which variant? are there communities where only one variant is accepted? - rather than present arguments that can't take this dichotomous usage into consideration.
    Agree

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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    Originally Posted by lucas-sp
    That's why the only possible argument that can stand as fully satisfying is one that takes into account a split in usage. There are at least two forms of the saying possible today. This may not have always been the case, but it does seem like there is evidence suggesting that there were multiple forms of the saying quite near the point of its emergence. I would like to propose that we try to discuss the split - who uses which variant? are there communities where only one variant is accepted? - rather than present arguments that can't take this dichotomous usage into consideration.


    I'll make a start. The community of dictionary compilers consistently use 'think'. (Note: Annoyingly I can't find the post where this was pointed out. EDIT JulianStuart found it - Post 333)

    Does anyone know of other communities (apart from their family and friends)?
    Last edited by Biffo; 21st November 2012 at 1:20 AM.
    If you think that, you have another think coming!

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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biffo View Post
    I'll make a start. The community of dictionary compilers consistently use 'think'. (Note: Annoyingly I can't find the post where this was pointed out by someone. I'll mention it here when I find it)

    Does anyone know of other communities (apart from their family and friends)?
    Dictionary compilers are bound to make hard-and-fast decisions about variants in usage based on print sources. That's the nucleus of the research methodology, disciplinary goals, and limitations of a dictionary. A dictionary is a guide primarily for the understanding of words in a certain class of written documents. These methodologies definitely stem from practical constraints (how would we be able to analyze the spoken language of 1743?), but they can also turn out to produce other biases as well, and sometimes unexpected ones.

    The same thing goes for Google Books, which, for better or for worse, is also an anthology of print of a certain class. It's more inclusive and wide-ranging, but some of the same problems still apply.

    Try changing a part of the methodology - for instance, look at sources other than books. I already showed how the New York Times (again, a paper with a notoriously picky style section) accepts both variants interchangeably. So that's a famous highbrow newspaper accepting both variants.

    To get a sense of the wider use of these phrases in interviews and reports, look at Google News searches for the phrases "another thing coming" and "another think coming," and make sure to click through to the last page to see the actual number of hits. There are 21 results for "another think coming" (a lot of the ones that come up are reading a headline that was repeated on multiple pages), and 57 results for "another thing coming." That's a huge majority in favor of "thing"! It could just be a blip for now, but it certainly shows that there is a significant number of people using "thing" in reading and writing, in semi-formal situations.

    As I said before, in COCA (US English since 1990) the results are more evenly split, 20/23 in favor of thing. COCA transcribes television and radio to take spoken language into account alongside printed language.

    Once you change the search methodology, the results change.

    Basically, it's very hard to believe (whether you were originally a think-ist or a thing-ist) that the other variant exists and is used. But it does, and it is. So can we please move beyond this kind of bizarre skepticism about "think" or "thing"?

    I'm not anti-dictionary. But it's obvious that dictionaries have a restricted use in language-learning (and even for the "fluent" who have "mastered" a language). Dictionaries don't and can't exhaustively cover sentence-building, pronunciation, bullshitting, wordplay, slang, informal speech, all the reformations and deformations that constitute the everyday practice of language. (Although the case is certainly better in English than, say, in French - where the boundaries between "correct French" and "everyday, actual French" are policed by a government agency - it remains true that if you want to learn how people actually speak to each other at a certain point you must put the dictionary down and start playing the game of language with those people.) This is why, I believe, language teachers advise their students not just to look in the dictionary, but to talk to native speakers. I think we could all take this advice to heart: we have a lot of native speakers here, with a well-demonstrated level of reflectiveness and self-consciousness about their language. If they say that "thing" is a variant that they hear and see used, why would we believe the dictionary over them?

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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    Quote Originally Posted by lucas-sp View Post
    ...So can we please move beyond this kind of bizarre skepticism about "think" or "thing"...
    You invited us to come up with communities. That's all I did. I shall be interested to hear about other communities that have a preference for whichever version.



    Incidentally I think the following gives a new perspective as it is similar to the 'think' point of view but doesn't suffer from ambiguity of pronunciation.

    have another guess coming
    to have to rethink something because one was wrong the first time...You have another guess coming if you think you can treat me like that!
    http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/guess
    Last edited by Biffo; 20th November 2012 at 5:24 PM.
    If you think that, you have another think coming!

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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biffo View Post
    have another guess coming
    But are you sure it's not "another guest"? Sorry, I couldn't resist!

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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    I started to read the thread again but gave up, so it's possible that someone (indeed possibly me) has said this before. Post #48 comes close.

    I suppose I'm still struggling to understand the thingists, and it occurs to me today that part of my difficulty may be related to the context in which I have heard and used "... another think coming" and the meaning I attribute to it.

    At the heart of this is my understanding that the statement means that something that you have hitherto held to be true will be irrefutably proven wrong and you will be convinced of an alternative version of truth. It is about your set of beliefs. Nothing more.

    It seems very probable, looking at posts by thingists (not all of them, sorry), that their understanding of the expression they use is substantially broader, and their projection of future events includes an ominous entity, the "thing", that will force the change.
    Indeed it seems possible that their threatened future does not necessarily involve a change of belief (see quote from post #35, below).
    I notice also that many of the thingists consider that "what you think" relates to the expectation of something happening, so that "another thing" clearly refers to a thing that is different from the previously-anticipated thing. For them, "another think" is nonsensical (see quote from #23).

    For example:
    #21 - But that's too gentle -- merely inviting him to think again on the error of his ways. Instead, an unspecified but ominous and menacing "thing" is headed his way. The mystery of the "thing" adds to its threat, but it falls into the same generally nasty category as the implied "things" in "you'll get what's coming to you", "you'll get exactly what you deserve."
    #22 - This is the idea behind the expression, which suggests that the thing in question is retribution for having wronged the speaker.
    #23 - If you think you're having ice cream for pudding, you've got another thing coming. (A clip around the ear hole / tapioca and being sent to bed early).
    #24 - you have something else coming your way - like a shock, a punch, being fired, etc.
    #35 - To me, it is an expression which is laced with menace; it means that grave consequences, of which you are currently ignorant, await you. Sometimes it means that the consequences await irrespective of any change of mind or action.

    My convoluted thought process leads me to wonder if in fact we are talking about different expressions that have different meaning to their ardent advocates.
    Rather as if we are arguing about whether we ought to say "The bird is blue," or "The bird is green," while half of us are looking at one bird and half of us at another.
    It takes two to tangle.

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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    Quote Originally Posted by panjandrum View Post
    My convoluted thought process leads me to wonder if in fact we are talking about different expressions that have different meaning to their ardent advocates.
    Rather as if we are arguing about whether we ought to say "The bird is blue," or "The bird is green," while half of us are looking at one bird and half of us at another.
    This sounds very believable to me. As a thinkist I've been struggling to understand the rationale behind "thing", but - as you say - that's perhaps because it's not trying to fulfil the same rationale as me (which is identical to "if you think that then you have a rethink coming").

    The weight of this thread certainly shows that we need to leave any discussion of which is "right" and which "wrong" at the very least. I don't think I've seen another thread that has created such a schism between native speakers who think that their version is right/natural/correct etc!
    ‘If a chap can’t compose an epic poem while he is weaving a tapestry, he had better shut up.' William Morris.

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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    Quote Originally Posted by panjandrum View Post
    ...
    My convoluted thought process leads me to wonder if in fact we are talking about different expressions that have different meaning to their ardent advocates.
    Rather as if we are arguing about whether we ought to say "The bird is blue," or "The bird is green," while half of us are looking at one bird and half of us at another.
    That's a new idea to me. However if it were the case wouldn't we expect at least a small proportion of people who happily used both versions but in different circumstances?
    If you think that, you have another think coming!

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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    Quote Originally Posted by timpeac View Post
    I don't think I've seen another thread that has created such a schism between native speakers who think know that their version is right/natural/correct etc!
    Fixed
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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biffo View Post
    That's a new idea to me. However if it were the case wouldn't we expect at least a small proportion of people who used both versions but in different circumstances?
    Good point - but I think not. I say that based on the huge number of people (myself included) who were initially incredulous to learn that there were others who could possibly think the other form was correct - were surprised to hear it even existed. My impression, from this thread, is that one is sometimes said, sometimes the other - but a given individual will initially hear one or the other form and then go on hearing it no matter what the actual pronunciation or intention of the subsequent speakers are. This has been shown by the people in this thread who have spoken to relatives and found that some use the other form.

    This isn't that surprising. The natural assimilation of a "g" before a "c" as you would get in "thing coming" would make it very similar indeed to "think coming" in speech at normal speed.
    Last edited by timpeac; 20th November 2012 at 9:16 PM.
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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    We have (i) think-ists and (ii) thing-ists, (iii) those who are happy to accept both (or (iii)a, at least suspect that both do) and (iv) those who suspect that there are two separate phrases.

    This is the Think-ist background evidence and solid argument (as opposed to their suspicions/vague opinion/anecdotal stories)
    Quote Originally Posted by Cagey View Post
    On Google books, the earliest incident of "another think coming" is 1873. Certainly it was in spoken language before that.
    "You think I ought to thank you for butting in and keeping me from dying without knowing anything about it, don't you? Well, you got another think coming." ... from the American Publishers Weekly - 1873
    It's on the basis of its word play that I believe the "think coming" version was first. It seems to me that sayings of this sort are built around and even motivated by catchy word play and rhymes.[/QUOTE]

    Quote Originally Posted by Loob View Post
    Grammatically dubious, panj? OED's first citation for "think" as a noun dates from 1834. And I, personally, often sit and have a drink ooops think.
    [quote]
    Quote Originally Posted by mplsray View Post
    It looks as if no one has yet noted in this thread the dates of first attribution which the Oxford English Dictionary gives for these idioms. The following come from the entries "think" and "thing" respectively:
    The editors of the OED think that the think version came first.
    [1.]c. to have another think coming... 1898 Syracuse (N.Y.) Standard 21 May 8/1 Conroy lives in Troy and thinks he is a corning fighter. This gentleman has another think coming.
    P17. to have another thing coming...
    1919 Syracuse (N.Y.) Herald 12 Aug. 8/3 If you think the life of a movie star is all sunshine and flowers you've got another thing coming.
    Quote Originally Posted by preppie View Post
    If it is indeed "thing" and I have another one coming.. What was the first 'thing' I received. And now I get to enjoy a second ? or third ?
    Quote Originally Posted by JamesM View Post
    I don't see it any more or less true than "If you think the world is going to fall at your feet, you've got a surprise coming." The person may find that the world does actually fall at his feet. I'd say it's more of a prediction than a wish or a command.

    In many cases, the person using the expression is about to disabuse the other person of his current notion, so it's a fairly safe prediction.

    "If you think I would marry you, you've got another think coming."
    "If you think I'm going to let you go to that party with your homework unfished, you've got another think coming."
    Quote Originally Posted by bdpalawan View Post
    Neither of the sounds represented by the /k/ nor /ng, respectively, are "palatalized." They are velar (palatal includes sounds such as y, double-L in Spanish, etc.) Velars are not quite swallowed (there are sounds articulated much further back in the throat). But you are correct that the problem people have in hearing the difference is that phonetically, without an unnatural pause between "thing (or think)" and "coming," it sounds the same: thingcoming. It is ambiguous as to whether the /ng/ is the /ng of "thing" or the /n/ of "think" (both represent the same velar nasal sound.)
    Quote Originally Posted by wandle View Post
    Are we all agreed by now that 'think' can indeed be a noun? Here is the OED entry for that:
    noun [in singular] informal an act of thinking:
    I went for a walk to have a think

    This usage is described as 'informal', which means that the OED have enough evidence to establish 'think' as a noun in that register. It would not surprise me to find it in a good modern novel. At any rate, the fact that the OED includes it shows that there is sufficient real life evidence for this usage.

    Given that, it seems we can establish with reasonable probability which expression came first.
    In fact, not only do we have two different phrases, but we have two different meanings.

    (a) 'You have (got) another think coming' means 'You are about to change your mind'.
    (b) 'You have (got) another thing coming' means, we are told, 'Something unpleasant is about to happen to you'.

    If the expression originated as 'you have (got) another thing coming', then why would it be associated with 'if you think that'? Why 'think'? Why would it not be associated equally with a range of other verbs?

    Why not, for example, 'If you believe /imagine /suppose that, you've got another thing coming'?
    Why not, 'If you're saying that, you've got another thing coming'? Or, 'If that's your position..'?
    (If any of these expressions do occur, they are far less frequent than 'if you think that'.)

    If the meaning is 'Something unpleasant is about to happen to you', then why would it not be used in a range of other situations?
    Why not, for example, 'Clean up your room, or you've got another thing coming'?
    Why not, 'If you go playing in the street again, you've got another thing coming'?

    On the other hand, if the expression originated as 'you have (got) another think coming', then (a) we have a logical connection with 'if you think that', (b) we have a pointed and witty expression and (c) we can see how 'think coming' could easily be misheard, especially by children, as 'thing coming'.

    It requires a bit more effort to say 'think coming' with the two 'k' sounds clearly distinguished than to say 'thing coming' with only one 'k' sound. As linguists recognise, there is a natural tendency in pronunciation, where there are similar-sounding letter combinations, for the more difficult one to be replaced by the easier one. That is very typical of children's attempts at pronunciation.
    and then there is
    Quote Originally Posted by n0lqu View Post
    Having read the ENTIRE thread, here's my summary/opinion/interpretation of what people have been saying:
    [snip]
    a summary
    A summary worth reading

    A thing-ist might want to do something similar.
    "There are no rules in English, only guidance. Some guidance looks like a rule; it probably isn't."

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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biffo View Post
    I'll make a start. The community of dictionary compilers consistently use 'think'. (Note: Annoyingly I can't find the post where this was pointed out by someone. I'll mention it here when I find it)
    Post 333

    Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

    Cambridge Dictionary Online

    MacMillan Dictionary and Thesaurus

    Merriam-Webster

    The Free Dictionary

    WordReference (English definition)
    Your meaning is not what you think it is, it is what your listener thinks it is

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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    I'm intrigued by the idea that these could in fact be two different sayings, i.e. that although most people only use one, the reason they are so attached to it is functionally different from the other.

    From what I can see, the 'think' variety has arisen as a word-play - conflating the verbal with the noun variety of the word. The humour arises from using two different meanings of the same word, in the same way as, say, "A man walks into a bar. Ouch." (This use of two different meanings of think seems in my mind to be mutually exclusive to the claim that it is somehow more logical, but never mind). The phrase is therefore seen as a 'humorous' rejoinder to think again.

    On the other hand, the 'thing' variety seems a more straight up warning. If you think something then you have another thing coming - that thing that you think will not come to pass, something else will. One always thinks something: indeed, were one a zen master, and being of a completely clear mind, it still seems vaguely koan-like to say, "If you are thinking of nothing, then you have another thing coming."

    The question then becomes do thinkists and thingists use it in slightly different contexts.

    I must confess, here, to being a thingist. I was brought up hearing this as a warning/threat: e.g. If you think I'll tidy your room for you then you've got another thing coming. On the one hand that thing could just be me tidying my room but it was rather more ominous to have it left unspecified. I have also heard the phrase 'having another thing coming' used as an unspecified threat without the first half of the phrase: e.g. He might be top dog at the moment but he has another thing coming. Naturally, this wouldn't make sense with the 'think' version.

    Could a 'thinkist' confirm that they use the phrase in different situations?

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    Re: You've got another 'thing' / 'think' coming?

    Quote Originally Posted by simon123 View Post
    Could a 'thinkist' confirm that they use the phrase in different situations?
    Yes - as a thinkist for me "if you think I'll tidy your room for you then you've got another think coming" isn't a threat - it simply means "you are (going to find out that you are very) wrong". "He might be top dog at the moment but he has another think coming" isn't something I'd say. The only way it could really work for me is in speech where people aren't always thinking clearly about what they have just said, and so this would be used by someone who meant "he might think that he's top dog at the moment" even if he actually said "he might be top dog...". If he unequivocally is top dog, and he, the speaker and everyone else would agree that he is top dog at the moment then the phrase using "think" wouldn't make any sense to me and - not being a thingist - it wouldn't occur to me to use the phrase using "thing".

    So for me saying "he has another think coming" has to mean that the person is thinking wrongly at the moment and will at some point come to realise that. Not necessarily that something bad will happen if they continue thinking that way whether or not what they think now is actually correct. A thing may come along which will cause the rethink but it is the rethink being referred to by the phrase, not the thing itself (after all why would it then be "another").

    This supports, I think, Pajandrum's suggestion that thingists and thinkists actually mean something a bit different with their phrase.
    Last edited by timpeac; 21st November 2012 at 3:45 PM.
    ‘If a chap can’t compose an epic poem while he is weaving a tapestry, he had better shut up.' William Morris.

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