Another think, again

Marc Velasco marcjvelasco at GMAIL.COM
Fri May 23 14:05:30 UTC 2008

>> Are "date of origin" and "date of earliest-known citation" necessarily
>> coincidental?

Is the question trying to get at something other than the difference
between dates of spoken usage and dates of written usage?

On Fri, May 23, 2008 at 9:37 AM, Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Another think, again
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Fri, May 23, 2008 at 8:08 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
>> At 5/23/2008 07:32 AM, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>>>Here are the earliest citations we have so far:
>>>1904 _Wilshire's Magazine_ (Feb.) in _Wilshire Editorials_ (1906) 214
>>>Now if we should try and think up some one person who is satisfied
>>>with the existing order of things and upon whose lips is the cry: "Let
>>>well enough alone, Stand pat," we would most likely have thought that
>>>we should find him in the editor of the Wall Street Journal. But if we
>>>did, then we have another thing coming, for this is the cry-baby talk
>>>I find in this morning's (Dec. 16) editorial.
>> Shouldn't this be excluded as the earliest, since "another thing
>> coming" parallels the earlier "satisfied with the existing order of *things*"?
> Interesting, I hadn't considered possible influence from the word
> "things" in the previous sentence. That could play a factor, but
> methinks it's still the "think" frame, if rather obscured by ellipsis:
>  If we should try and think up some one person...
>  But if we did [try and think up...] then we have another thing coming.
> The 1919 example ("If you think the life of a movie star is all
> sunshine and flowers you've got another thing coming") is more
> explicit in its framing. But note that the early "another think" exx
> aren't rigidly formulaic either:
> The 1897 Washington Post example uses "Another 'think' coming to them"
> as a headline, with the framing occurring in the body of the article
> ("Methodist conference members from throughout the country think...").
> And the 1898 Chicago Tribune example puts the frame in a separate
> sentence rather than a conditional clause ("Chicago thinks it wants a
> new charter. Chicago has another think coming").
> So I don't think we're necessarily dealing with a fixed proverb/saying
> but rather a loose template (snowclone?) that was sometimes phrased
> rather allusively. Or perhaps the fixity of the paradigmatic "If you
> think that X,  you've got another think coming" was in flux early on,
> which could have allowed for the "thing" reanalysis at a very early
> stage.
> I also wonder if the "thing" usage in some of the early examples could
> have been a miscorrection, imposed by editors who were unfamiliar with
> the "another think" turn of phrase.
> --Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list