on the eggcorn beat

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Wed Apr 30 14:58:29 UTC 2008

On Apr 30, 2008, at 5:14 AM, David Bowie wrote:

> From:    "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
>> from the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., as reported in today's NYT (p.
>> A14):
>> "If you think I'm going to let you talk about my mama, and her
>> religious tradition," he said, pausing a beat, "you got another thing
>> coming."
> If this was a transcription of an unwritten statement, though, it's
> unclear whether this is an eggcorn in production (i.e., that's
> precisely
> what Rev. Wright said) or an eggcorn in perception (i.e., that's not
> what he said, but rather it's how the transcriber heard it).

yes indeed.  the quotation is from a monday address at the National
Press Club.

the Fox News transcript (like the NYT) has "thing":


here's the Fox News transcript of the relevant piece, an answer to a
question from the moderator about why wright is speaking out now:

As  said, this is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright.  It has nothing to
do with Senator Obama.  It is an attack on the black church launched
by people who know nothing about the African-American religious

And why am I speaking out now?  In our community, we have something
called playing the dozens.  If you think I’m going to let you talk
about my mama and her religious tradition, and my daddy and his
religious tradition, and my grandma, you’ve got another thing coming.


note that this supplies some material that was elided by the NYT.  the
NYT also has the location of that pause wrong; it came after "my
mama", and was definitely (coming right after a reference to the
dozens and its "yo mama" figure) a sly appeal to the audience.

but some other print sources have "think" -- e.g., Jake Tapper on ABC


the recording i've listened to has what i hear as "think".
unfortunately, that doesn't tell us what wright was aiming at; some
speakers sometimes realize word-final /N/ with a short [k] at the end,
and in context before the [k] of "coming" word-final /Nk/ might be
simplified to /N/.  so we can't easily determine the mental reality
from the phonetics.  now if we knew how wright *spelled* the word,
we'd have some evidence.

"think/thing coming" on Language Log:

AZ, 6/29/04: The thin line between error and mere variation (part 1 of

ML, 9/28/07: Another thing coming:

BZ, 9/28/07: Have another think:


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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