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January 6, 2013
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Will, is there a way to contact you off this site? I have screen grabs and URLs to send you. Those won't go into comment, and I have to believe it would be less than scintillating for the other readers. You'll be posting the most interesting stuff anyway. I looked on your blog but couldn't see a clear contact button.
But I definitely have other occurrences, even earlier. Do you want them? I have something from 1901. As to how closely it cleaves to your exact linguistic formula, that's another matter. I see it as the same form, but I understand that lexicography is a stickler's game.
Same author, different play: Miss Buzby's Boarders.
I'm so sorry. I didn't look carefully.
It's a different play in a book that must be an anthology. But unless I'm mistaken, it dates from 1908.
By the way, I think there's a pretty clear instance of the "think" version in the play The Fruit of his Folly, on page 26 (published 1894). The author is Arthur Lewis Tubbs, and the setting is Philadelphia. The dialogue is in a theatrical dressing room, so I'm guessing it's pretty gaudy stuff, designed to seem like the latest thing. It's not the exact order (if you think that... then you have another think) but it's pretty clear. One guy says: "but I thought" and the snappy retort is "Well, you have another think coming."
Very interesting. Didn't know that about British yard. I see that "backyard" has some currency though. Is that just an Americanism? So would a green space with only lawn, no flowers, still be a garden?
Yes, "you have another guess coming" declines in frequency over time, but it's the leader in the early years. Could it have been the origin structure? As in "you have three guesses" and the first one, evidently, was wrong? Then the witticism of "you have another think coming" superseded it, and then the homonym (thinGcoming being after all indistinguishable from thinKcoming) "you have another thing coming" took over, as it seems to have done?
It looks like "you have another thought coming" was used in just a few cases. I never know exactly how to read the percentages on Ngram.
Sorry, that Ngram URL seems not to have copied right. I'll try it again. In any case, it's simply an Ngram search for "you have another * coming"
Here it is:
I have found this whole discussion to be fascinating, especially the heat that it generates. I have always said “think,” my wife has always said “thing,” and as one perceptive commentator noted, one of the fascinating things about this issue is that most people seem to hold one strong position, and largely to have been unaware of the opposing position, as if Jonathan Swift’s Big-Enders and Little-Enders existed in parallel dimensions, simply unaware of any other way to eat eggs. Perhaps the internet is bringing some of these differences out, as new topics for us to quibble over. I’m especially intrigued by an aspect of the duality that I’ve commented on before, but I’ll mention again: “thing” and “think” aren’t just any old words. They’re sort of fundamental ones: rooted in cognition and existence. It led me to look into the origins of “thing,” for starters. As I’d pointed out in an earlier comment, “thing” is also a term that means “assembly” or “congress.” What I hadn’t understood till now, though, is that “thing” originally meant assembly (still present in English in the word “hustings,” and in the name of Iceland’s general assembly, the Althing, or “all-thing,” one of the oldest assemblies in the world). This is present in other languages, by the way: “cosa” comes from “causa,” or lawsuit. The Latin word for thing is “res,” and it’s the source of the word “republic,” the “public thing,” or “common thing.” To say nothing of Cosa Nostra. So the confusion between these two words, their invisible coexistence in these two rival formulations, seems to smack of the metaphysical. Please note that they’re not from the same root, the way, say, “garden” and “yard” are. (As a translator, this has been brought home to me by the fact that often the correct English translation of the Italian word “giardino” is, very simply, “yard”). No they are two distinct words, one meaning an assembly of people converging to agree on something (just imagine, in this context, the feeling of seeing something, finding it hard to believe your own says, turning to another person, and asking them, “Do you see it too?” Couldn’t that be the origin of thing-ness? The agreement of several people that it is, indeed, a thing? And consider the current slang term, “Is that even a thing?”) The etymology of “think,” interestingly, is “to cause to appear to oneself,” according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. And so both these terms seems to entail conjuring something into existence. The idea that either could be the wildcard in a single formulation is, to my mind, very appealing. This is where the discussion of language seems to be a discussion of the very essence of existence, perception, and memory. Turns out, by the way (again, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary), that “do your thing” is a very old term, with the same meaning, dating back to the 1840s. I love the room that it leaves for an oddly redolent misunderstanding, almost up to the level of Sidney Morgenbesser’s reply to linguistic philosopher J. L. Austin’s claim that while a double-negative might have a positive meaning, in no language on earth does a double-positive produce a negative meaning. Morgenbesser, of course, commented, dismissively, “Yeah, yeah” (or according to a variant version, “Yeah, right”). So in this Janus-like, double-headed expression, what you have another one of coming is either a consensus or deliberation (“thing”) or a “causing to appear to oneself” (think). Shorty concludes: “My mind is made up.” Well, like a bed in a hotel room, when it’s made up, it has the advantage of neatness, but it doesn’t serve its intended function. A mind that’s made up about language is like a mind that’s made up about the nature of the universe. Since it’s impossible to know for certain about either subject, making up your mind is pointless. But I wanted to see what happened if I put “you have another * coming” into nGram Viewer. And look what emerged:
I tried to copy in a screengrab: but it didn't seem to take. But it turns out the EARLIEST occurrence is “you have another guess coming.” Now that’s funny. And "another guess coming" has a very long and vigorous life as an expression that I haven't seen mentioned in this discussion. Guess it didn't have the fascinating closeness of "think" and "thing." Garner’s Modern English Usage (2009, page 49) says that “another thing coming” is “grammatical but not even vaguely clever.” It’s not clever if the only joke there is is the joke made with “another think coming,” but as so often happens, there’s more than one joke in the room. I’m a “thinkist” by birth, but I see the point of “thingism.” That’s the kind of open-mindedness that loses the Democratic Party elections, I get that. But I don’t think there’s a right and wrong side here. I think there’s a fascinating linguistic kaleidoscope to be enjoyed.
How about "having a laugh." Or an even more marked use of a verb that's not a noun as a noun: "having a good cry"? He heard a sneeze. It's not the cough that carries you off... The list is endless. It's like asking whether something that happened in a movie "really" happened. It's language, and in the English language you can't really say that a noun isn't and can't be used as a verb.
I think it's pretty clear that as far as usage is concerned, two groups in society have been using two expressions that are indistinguishable acoustically, assuming people who were saying "thing coming" were actually saying "think coming" and vice versa. In terms of logic, both versions make sense to the users. It's sort of like Jonathan Swift's big-enders and little-enders. To me, "thing coming" just seems lame and vague; to my wife, "think coming" sounds ungrammatical. The objection that something is ungrammatical strikes me as frivolous: I remember hearing, growing up in Washington DC, "that don't make me no never mind." Are you going to tell me people didn't say something because it was ungrammatical? They did, and it was. But "you have another think coming" is totally grammatical, as has been pointed out. What I find interesting is that there are these two large linguistic colonies, and their adherents are quite passionate about the rightness of their cause. Again, I refer back to Swift.
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