"another thing coming"

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Wed May 28 20:34:59 UTC 2008

On May 28, 2008, at 12:36 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:

> At 11:03 AM -0700 5/28/08, Brenda Lester wrote:
>> FWIW: Remember Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnez) (I LOVE LUCY)
>>  used to say "thin" for thing?  We southerners say
>> "nothin'."
> But when?  Do you say "That's another thin"?

brenda: an alveolar (rather than velar) variant for -ing is generally
available in most parts of the english-speaking world for two sets of

(a) the -ing form ("present participle", "gerund participle", etc.;
there are many alternative labels) of verbs;

and (b) compound indefinite pronouns ending in unaccented "thing":
"nothing", "something", and for those speakers who can have unaccented
(rather than secondarily accented) "thing" in "anything" and
"everything" (i don't have it), one or both of these.

the frequency of the alveolar variant varies from social group to
social group, region to region, person to person, and context to
context in very complex ways (which have been extensively studied),
and there's a rich body of folk belief about who uses the alveolar
variant and on what occasions.  but the alveolar variant itself is
just a feature of general colloquial english, and is found all over
the U.S. and Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa,

larry's point was that an alveolar variant for words in (a) and (b) is
not at all surprising, but that such a variant for words outside of
(a) and (b) is surprising.  not unknown, but certainly worth noting.
i've occasionally heard things like "Wyomin'" (especially from people
from the region), and of course alveolar variants are heard in the
speech of non-native speakers, when their native language lacks word-
final velar nasals, and possibly sometimes also (i don't know the
literature) as a substratum feature for native speakers, when earlier
generations had alveolar versions as part of their foreign accent.


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