Discussion in 'English Only' started by Mr Bones, Nov 24, 2005.

  1. Mr Bones

    Mr Bones Senior Member

    España - Español
    Hello, friends. I've just watched a film -The curse of the Jade Scorpion, Woody Allen- in wich they used this expression:

    My Gosh! Who'd thunk it!

    I looked up the word thunk and I found out that it's the past and participle of think. The Merriam-Webster Online said that it was dialect. So, I'd like to know what kind of dialect it is, from where and any other information you could give. I think I heard Goshbefore, but is thunk common nowadays.

    Thank you, Mr Bones.

    And please, correct my mistakes.
  2. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English
    The expression "Who'd thunk it?" is a bit archaic, and basically is an exaggerated expression of surprise or disbelief, meaning: "Who would have thought?"

    For example:

    At a cocktail party.

    Person 1: "Hey, did you hear old Jerry up and got himself hitched? A real bombshell, I hear."

    Person 2: "Well, who'd thunk it? I figured Jer for a confirmed batchelor. Afterall, he's not exactly the type to settle down."

    hitched = married
    bombshell = gorgeous, curvaceous woman (à la Marillyn Monroe)
    settle down = get married

    thunk in this way is not very common, although still heard from time to time.

    An alternative using thunk: "Who'd have thunk it?" (Who'd = Who would have)

    thunk as a verb not related to "think" is used in IT jargon. An explanation of that usage can be found here.
  3. Mr Bones

    Mr Bones Senior Member

    España - Español
    Thank you very much, GenJen, your explanation is very good and very interesting. I wonder also if thunk has been used in BE. Could anyone tell me? Thank you, Bones.
  4. Amityville

    Amityville Senior Member

    English UK
    Yes, I've heard it - but I never thought it was dialect, I thought it was deliberate misconstruction of the participle - for clunk effect.
  5. Isotta

    Isotta Senior Member

    English, Hodgepodge
    Perhaps it is both. These days, it's rare to hear someone say it in earnest.

  6. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Yes, that's exactly what I would have thunk too.
  7. nycphotography

    nycphotography Senior Member

    I do be learnin stuff
    John-Paul Miller, NYC
    Thunk, in AE is common, although inproper, usage.

    Who'da thunk it = Who would have thunk it = Who would have thought it.

    Thunk and Brung are two common examples of the misconjugation of *ought past tenses.

    I think there is an increasing tendency to call improper usage "dialect" rather than just call it wrong. I suspect it has some connection to the same nutbars who oppose red ink when correcting schoolwork. *shrug*
  8. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australian English
    I agree. As far as I know "thunk" is a dull, hollow sound, the sort of sound that you would hear if 2 persons who promote bad English as correct, have their heads banged together. Just joking! :D :D :D
  9. Jerry&Ann New Member

    Taiwan, Chinese
    "Who'da thunk it?"
    Does this means "I can't believe it!"?

    Thanks in advance.
  10. candy-man

    candy-man Senior Member


    who'd have thunk it= something is unexpected and surprising. So,you are right :) It means I cannot believe that.
  11. Bluey

    Bluey Member

    It comes from: "Who would have thought this?" i.e. "Who would have believed it was true/real?" and it has an ironic/comedic implication.
  12. mplsray Senior Member

    I would have thought that Who'da thunk it? came from Who would have thought it?--which now sounds old-fashioned--short for Who would have thought it true/real/possible?

    Thunk is, as the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary puts it, a "dialect past and past participle of THINK." So part of the humor, when the expression is used by standard speakers, is this use of a dialectal form.

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