Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thought vs. Thunk: Irregular or Ignorant?


Yesterday's post on swam vs. swum sparked a bit of interest in irregular verbs. This morning on Twitter, @KKHaviland asked about dreamed vs. dreamt. Then, also via Twitter, @GrammarROCKS joined in with some irregular-verb humor. Yes, there is such a thing. Apparently.

Meanwhile, I also received this e-mail from Kyle:
What about thunk? Is it a word? I've definitely heard people say thunk and I've even read it, but I'm not confident that it's really a word.
Go with those instincts, Kyle. I've heard people say thunk, too. But consider where it originated.

The phrase Who'd a thunk it? was coined way back in the 1930s and '40s by Mortimer Snerd, a ventriloquist dummy voiced by vaudeville star Edgar Bergen. Mortimer was a likeable character, but buck-toothed, slow-witted, and famous for saying, "Duhhh." You can connect the dots.

Imperfect and downright bad grammar is used all the time, and often to great effect, in literature, music and film. Artistic license gives authors and screenwriters permission to bend grammar rules, especially when writing dialogue. My favorite quote from Kathryn Stockett's wonderful novel, The Help, is: "You is kind. You is smart. You is important." The moment would be far less powerful if Aibileen's grammar were correct.

There are also numerous idiomatic expressions that use bad grammar, but which are so well-established that we repeat them without fearing criticism. We collectively understand that it's bad grammar, and that makes it okay. For instance, we don't say If it isn't broken, don't fix it because the expression is If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The word 'ain't' is acceptable only because the saying is so ingrained in our culture.

The same goes for thunk, in my opinion. The expression is Who'da thunk it?, not Who'd have thought it? But outside of that particular wording, be careful about using thunk.

Quick rules:
  • Think is an irregular verb. I think. I thought. I had thought.
  • Never use thunk in a school essay, job application, or any other serious document where you are aiming to impress. Like 'ain't', thunk may cause people to wonder about your intelligence.
  • There's an established idiom around Who'da thunk it?, so that's fair game.

22 comments:

  1. I have learnt various good stuff right here, and I’m sure everyone will get advantage of it.Grammarly

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have learnt?... or... I have learned?

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. I recall being taught when using words in the past, present and future tense, the three words, though out of order, were:
      Think, thought, thunk
      This was a private, parochial school too.

      Delete
  2. There's no real future tense in English, grammatically, just verbal constructions like "I will think about it" / "I am going to think about it".

    /Håkan

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is very informative site. I am totally pleased by your excellent work. Many thanks for sharing how to rewrite a sentence

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mercedes E-class car review – ‘Makes driving feel like flying’ | Technology | The Guardian
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/03/mercedes-e-class-car-review

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mercedes E-class car review – ‘Makes driving feel like flying’ | Technology | The Guardian
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/03/mercedes-e-class-car-review

    ReplyDelete
  6. For the most part, English proofreading software does two main things. It works on spelling and, of course, grammar. As you type, it goes through and proof reads your work. There are many differences in those programs available. visit the site

    ReplyDelete
  7. visit the site Finding the right words can be tough and for some, it can take a while before they can paraphrase a paragraph.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The wave of economic relaxation that sweptwing through India within the Nineteen Nineties junction rectifier to large opportunities for good businessmen. the ensuing rising demand for hands has resulted in a very market premium for quality MBAs. However, paraphrase sentences worksheet

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for sharing this awasome news for us. Get your outdoor storage needs organized with a backyard Garden shed in wide variety of metal, plastic and wood material with any home style and garden view..if you live abroad and want to get garden shed in Newzealnd you will be also see here Garden shed Nz. For more visit my page

    ReplyDelete
  10. Send your essay to our essay reviser and let our professional editors revise it accordingly! http://www.essayrevisor.com/revise-my-essay/

    ReplyDelete
  11. Bepanah Drama is released and going well in TRP. This drama crossed all the trps in just 4 episodes. The review of this drama serial is good. and the strory line is much intersting and unique and from the start. No Single scene of this drama is boring. Bepanah Episode
    This replay is taken from Pinoy Tv Channel which is directed on a Philphines Activist Arunachalam Muruganantham Pinoy Tv Replays

    ReplyDelete
  12. I first heard think it

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hey...!! First of all i would like to thanks you for providing such great info.i am glad to see that i found the thing which i want on your blog.its really creative blog thanks.

    kaun hai

    ReplyDelete
  14. Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this
    board and I in finding It truly helpful & it helped me out a lot. I’m hoping to offer something again and aid
    others such as you aided me . Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai Watch Live

    ReplyDelete


  15. The story is about three brothers of the Nazar who have an everlasting bond and how they met their partners.
    Kalyani Dadi is included in the family. She is seen as the ruler of the family.
    Nazar

    ReplyDelete


  16. The story is about three brothers of the Nazar who have an everlasting bond and how they met their partners.
    Kalyani Dadi is included in the family. She is seen as the ruler of the family.
    Nazar

    ReplyDelete


  17. The story is about three brothers of the Nazar who have an everlasting bond and how they met their partners.
    Kalyani Dadi is included in the family. She is seen as the ruler of the family.
    Nazar

    ReplyDelete


  18. The story is about three brothers of the Nazar who have an everlasting bond and how they met their partners.
    Kalyani Dadi is included in the family. She is seen as the ruler of the family.
    Nazar

    ReplyDelete