a whole 'nother thing

Discussion in 'English Only' started by stundi, May 10, 2007.

  1. stundi New Member

    What is this sentence supposed to mean?
    They think I'm chanting, they have a whole 'nother thing coming.
    A woman is in a rehab institute where people chant. She's astonished at it.
    Does she mean she won't join them?
  2. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    It's usually "whole other thing" meaning something entirely different, new or unexpected. I would call it a corrupted idiom, this happens a lot, people either don't know or care what the saying really is, or change it creatively, for fun or effect. Another example is "I could care less" from "I couldn't care less".

    I don't encourage its use, "whole other thing" is quite bad enough to begin with.
  3. Pippynoodles Member

    Yes, you have the correct understanding of the sentence.

    It's not correct English to say "....a whole 'nother thing coming" but it would be considered "street language" or just the way some groups might speak. It's really just saying "...a whole other thing coming" (if they think I'm going to chant, they can just re-think it!... because I'm not...)
  4. Haylette Senior Member

    UK, English
    It's not incorrect, it's actually a linguistic device called dystmesis.

    It's when you separate a word in an unlikely place for emphasis

    eg. a whole nother thing

    or in my part of the world :) fan bloody tastic
  5. Blumengarten Senior Member

    America / English
    Well I remember my old English teacher, ironically named Miss Grammar, teaching us about the infix (similar to a prefix or a suffix, but goes in the middle of the word; dystmesis works for me, though I've never heard that particular term before). She said that "a whole 'nother thing" is the only infix common in American English, though they are rather common in British English.

    The "correct" phrase would be, "another whole thing," but "a whole nother thing" is so widely accepted that to say either "whole other thing" or "another whole thing" sounds very odd.

    You'll also hear people say, "You've got another thing coming ... "
  6. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    An infix is part of a word; a dystmesis is a figure of speech, or rhetorical device, in which one word is split into two or more and another word or more is inserted between the parts: "Which way soever man refer to it" (Milton), "embarra two ars is it? double ess ment" (James Joyce). Just splitting the word is known as tmesis: "In two words, im possible." (Goldwyn)

    [Examples from Figures of Speech by Arthur Quinn.]

    "They've got another thing coming" can mean that they have no idea what's about to happen. In the current example, nothing is about to happen, and the meaning is just that they have no idea, the truth would shock them (if they were to become aware of it).
  7. Cathy Rose Senior Member

    Northeast USA
    United States English
    This discussion has led me to question the common saying, "That's a whole 'nother thing." Maybe this should be a new thread, but it seems related somehow. What, exactly, does that mean? "That's a whole another thing" doesn't make sense. "That's a whole other thing" does make sense, but it's not what people say. So why do Americans say "That's a whole 'nother thing."? Is it used in BE or in AuE?

    Moderator note: This thread has been split from one about another topic.
  8. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    A guess: " 'nother" is a corruption of "other". Euphony is the driver.
  9. Pticru Senior Member

    U.S.-- English
    Maybe it could be because another= an other, and if you try to inject the adjective "whole" to describe "other", than you don't really need the "n" anymore (which was only there to begin with because "other" begins with a vowel), e.g. one would not say "an whole other". Thus it's just a residual "n" leftover from the forced re-separation of the fused article "an" with the noun "other". Disclaimer: these are not technical linguistic terms, I'm just trying to be logical here!
  10. GEmatt

    GEmatt Senior Member

    La Côte, Switzerland
    English/BE, Français/CH, Deutsch/CH (rustier & rustier)
    I've never heard it pronounced this way before, not in BE.
  11. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I'm pretty sure I've heard nother in use in BE, perhaps in something like a whole nother kettle of fish, but only very informally.
  12. Pticru Senior Member

    U.S.-- English
    It is a curious case. There's almost no way around it: "a whole other" just loses the original sense of the word "another", making it, well, less...whole.
  13. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I agree with ewie.

  14. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I can assure you all that nother is used in exactly this sense in BE.

    For those who doubt, please see:
    Nother: tmesis or metanalysis?

    Frankly, I can't believe I ever wrote post #1 in that thread, but hey, we can all be many people.
    There you will also find links to earlier threads on the same topic.

    To add to the cosmic coincidence, I heard nother used on the radio today. I don't recall the context, but the important point is that the word passed without any comment or dissent. BBC Radio 4 acknowledges and understands nother.
  15. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Oh Panjo ~ tmesis ~ I love tmesis! I never thought of it in those terms.
  16. Cathy Rose Senior Member

    Northeast USA
    United States English
    I enjoyed reading the previous thread, Panjo. I learned a new word -- tmesis -- and am humbled by the logic of the people who contribute to this forum. But that's a whole nother thing. Sigh. ;)
  17. thesmithtopher Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Ok, this is a question for all native English speakers out there.

    I'm a native English speaker as well, and I just came across something odd that I noticed myself say.

    I said "This is a whole nother can of worms". Upon saying this I noticed it sounded odd. Yet it was what I naturally wanted to say!

    Trying to figure out what this "nother" is, I first thought of "another" but then saying "This is a whole another..." doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

    Then I thought it could be "other" but then why would I have put an "n" in there? It it some sort of regional thing I picked up? (I'm from Alberta, Canada). Also, would it be correct to say "This is a whole other...."?

    Any thoughts out there on the matter?
  18. SleepingLeopard Senior Member

    English - United States (New York)
    I'm from New York, and I admit that I say it too (although it looks really strange written down!).

    I think it's a combination of a whole other and another. To me, it means pretty much the same as That's another thing altogether.
  19. thesmithtopher Senior Member

    Canada, English
    I was thinking that as well, which is really interesting! Perhaps "nother" should become a whole nother word :)

    The reason why I was asking was because I was about to write that down and trying to figure out what would be the proper way to write it, and I was at a loss. I might stick with "whole other" from now on.

    Any other comments?
  20. Salvage Senior Member

    Columbus, Ohio
    USA English
    "nother" sounds OK to my western Pennsylvanian-Midwest ear. I don't think I've ever seen it written. Dictionary.com tells me:

    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - noth·er /ˈnʌðər/ Spelled Pronunciation[nuhth-er] Pronunciation Key –adjective Informal. a whole nother, an entirely different; a whole other.
    [Origin: 1955–60; metanalysis of an other or another]
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2008
  21. thesmithtopher Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Crazy, it's been documented! I feel better now that this is widespread, albeit informal. Thanks everyone :)
  22. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
  23. thesmithtopher Senior Member

    Canada, English
    I searched and didn't find "nother", and just tried again and didn't find it. I realize my mistake; I put "nother" into the dictionary and nothing popped up at the bottom, whereas I should have used the search function on the forum itself, as it returned many results. Now I know this for next time, thanks :)
  24. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
  25. Erebos12345

    Erebos12345 Senior Member

    Sounds weird to me. Perhaps it's a liaison kind of thing...
  26. PMCB Member

    English, U.S.
    I think it is a liaison kind of thing. In my view, it isn't correct English, but I've heard a lot of people say it.
  27. Gwan Senior Member

    Indre et Loire, France
    New Zealand, English
    I'm also guilty of 'a whole nother' although if I catch myself doing it, I cringe. Maybe I shouldn't, since apparently it's global!

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