You half to help me!

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Jul 12 00:46:53 UTC 2002

>  > Dear linguists, I have recently seen "(you) half to..." for
>>  "(you) have
>>  to..." in two different pieces of writing. The first instance
>>  was in an
>>  official U.S. booklet aimed at (under)graduate students. The
>>  second one
>>  was contained in an email sent to me by a college secretary.
>>  What can you say about this construction other than it is a spelling
>>  error? Has it gained any sort of unconscious acceptance? How
>  > could that have come about?

They're not alone.  A quick google search under "you half to" (with
quotes present) turns up "about 1630 hits, only some of which can be
dismissed as involving well-formed contexts like "scares you half to
death".  Most are more like "you half to see it to believe it".

Well, at least the reader knows how to pronounced "half to" when it's
spelled that way.  But "unconscious acceptance" does seem to be on
the way...


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