Why I Settle For the Big Surprise

Working on my book late last night, I came across a phrase that I’ve seen and heard two different ways, so I decided that I needed to research it a bit before using it. Perhaps, some of you have also run across the same problem – or, maybe I’ve just been blissfully ignorant all the while. The phrase is (in any variation of):

“If you think I’m buying this colloquialism bulls**t, then you’ve got another _________ coming!”

Quick, is it Think or Thing?

I’m here to confess, that I’ve always thought it was Thing. I just read some pretty snarky comments from those who’ve never heard/read it used as ‘thing’ and even those who’ve claimed that ‘thing’ makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Hmm. Okay. And Think does? In that context, ‘think’ is improper English. It should be thought.  You can’t have a think.  Just like you can’t have a sat, or ate a pancakes.  There are Tense rules here! You know, past, present, future!?   But that of course would change the whole sound of the phrase and thus render it unremarkable.

OH, right and it’s a colloquialism, so it’s not meant to follow any grammatical rules!  It was meant to be funny… in a really sad, passive-aggressive way that makes the speaker appear to care more about the one their trying to insult being wrong, than the insulted will ever care about the speaker being right… ever.

Yet, if you had another ‘thing’ coming, that thing could be anything!  A surprise, a different thought, a better outcome, a Louisville Slugger to the cranium for using improper English… I mean, I always saw it as a viable threat along the lines of “You’ll get yours, when you least expect it,” you’ve got this ‘thing’ coming, but you’re not gonna know what it is until it gets here.  Surprise!  You’re a moron!  We tried to warn you, but you didn’t listen, because we used the wrong wording…

Linguistic experts have even jumped into the debate, claiming that the double ‘k’ letters (thin(K) (K)oming) blends into one, thus causing some people to hear it as a ‘g’ instead or – believe it or not – no sound at all, more of a soft exhalation of breath that somewhat resembles a faint ‘ka’ noise.  I love the rock band Bush and have always chuckled over their (I’m fairly certain) purposely chosen words for the song “Warm Machine,” because unless you actually wait a few seconds between words, it’s impossible to pronounce both M’s, making it sound like War Machine, instead.  Clever boys.  😉

However, when reading the phrase “…then you’ve got another think coming!”  I don’t hear a ‘g’ or a faint, blended ‘ka’ sound.  I hear “TINK!” right in my brain.  “Then you’ve got another thi(TINK) coming!”  Like the full, short note of a metal spoon’s edge rapped on a metal pipe.  It’s LOUD in my mind’s ear.  It causes me to stop, distracts me from the story I’m reading.  I’ll admit, that’s most likely because I always thought it was thing, so to see it as think, it jars my eyes and mind.  Seeing two K sounds back to back could also be what’s causing me pause, my brain trying to pronounce the first K more sharply in order to distinguish between the two – REGARDLESS, it’s not funny, it’s just dumb.  Like a joke that no one gets, so by the time you’re done explaining it, the purpose of it being a joke is long gone.  To have a ‘Think’ is not only improper, it is weak as far as insults or declarations go and I say it’s high time to change it to THING officially.

In the meantime, I’ve settled for the phrase “”If you think I’m buying this colloquialism bulls**t, then you’re in for a big surprise!” instead.

Far more interchangeable with the word ‘thing’ than the word ‘think,’ but what the hell do I know? I’m not a linguistic specialist or writer of backwards wit.  I do, however, own a Louisville Slugger.  Just FYI…

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2 thoughts on “Why I Settle For the Big Surprise

  1. Interesting post. I always say or use, “you’ve got another thing coming because “another think” sounds strange to me. However, I’m reasonably sure the real expression – or at least the original expression – is “If that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming.” In other words, “If that’s what you think, think again.”

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