Monday, June 1, 2009


I like to read the Dear Abby column when I have a moment of free time. I don't always agree with what she has to say, but I always find what she has to say pretty interesting.

However, I think she needs somebody with sharp eyes to look over her work sometimes. Even Abby's not perfect! Spell-check's not gonna know you said "think" when you meant to say "thing"... (Then again, the alcoholic father in question does need to have another "think" coming, I suppose...he needs to think again before he can hold his daughter's kid!)

Thanks to KIM for spotting this amusing mistake! (On a related note, I wonder what Abby would think of this blog. Actually, I'm not sure I really want to know...)


Lauren said...

Actually, to "have another think coming" is an idiomatic expression used mostly in rural parts of America. It's not a typo or a misspelling, it's just an expression that doesn't get used very often anymore.

It was much more widely used in the 1920s, often substituting "guess" for "think," although the meaning, "if you think that, think/guess again, you're wrong" didn't change.

It first showed up in Wallace Irwin's "The Love Sonnets of a Hoodlum" in 1901.

It is, admittedly, an anachronistic expression. But, as you more than well know, there are ample grammatical mistakes out there, so let's not add to the opus by naming things as wrong that aren't.

— L :)

Rimpy said...

I've heard people say "another think coming" before, kind of like a colloquial version of the phrase.


Ha! Well, who knew? (Apparently *I* didn't know.) I've never heard anyone use this expression before, and this is the first time I've ever seen it in writing.

Since I now realize that the expression is rather old-fashioned as opposed to just wrong, I'm not surprised that it showed up in a Dear Abby column. Her style does often incorporate rather old-fashioned language and phrasing. I do wonder, though, how many other people this expression has confused for the same reasons that Kim and I were both baffled by it. It brings to mind a question I frequently ask myself when I write--do I use the expression I *want* to use, or do I use the one that lends the most clarity/least confusion to the piece I'm writing?

David said...

My grandparents and parents have used that phrase/expression many times.

And besides, give Abby a break already. She's dead and how much proof-reading gets done by dead people?



I think "Dear Abby" is currently written by the daughter of the original "Abby," right?

Lauren said...

The current "Dear Abby" is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips, according to the blurb at the bottom of the column. Both women are still very much alive. It's Ann Landers who's dead, and that column is written by her long-time editors, who suck. My paper just dropped the column because the letters were so crazy and the answers were even crazier.


Ooh, now I'm kinda curious about what those crazy answers/crazy letters are all about! I'll have to search online and find the Ann Landers column. :)

Thanks for the clarification on the ladies behind Dear Abby. I wasn't sure if the original "Abby" writer was still alive or not...

yello.cape.cod said...

This expression has had a shift because of the difficulty in hearing the ending -k before the succeeding c (in coming). Thus after the first appearances of the phrase "another think coming" in print in the 1914, "another thing coming" had appeared by 1919 (when the OED saw fit to publish a warning against making the error). The phrase had been spoken as early as the 1890s.

The original construction was as an ungrammatical joke, "If you think that, you have another think coming." Here is a discussion of the earliest known appearances of both expressions in print:

In any case, the "thing" variant is more common now. I tend to be more of a descriptivist than prosciptivist, so I would not say either was wrong. Just variations of the same expression.