Halfway Sensible ...  

TheQuietGuy2005 54M
3484 posts
10/24/2005 6:11 am

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

Halfway Sensible ...

I love words. Languages have always fascinated me, not just how expressive they can be but what they reflect about our cultures.

And I have to admit a small bias: I adore English. So sue me!

But every now and then I find myself saying a phrase that is commonly used but simply makes no logical sense.

There I was paying for something today and I stopped short, realising that I was about to say "cheap at half the price".

I don't know how well this translates to other English-speaking countries, let alone to non-native speakers of the language, but it means nothing more nor less than something is good value.

But why does it?

Of course it would be cheap if it were half the price but we're paying full price aren't we? What's the relevance? Surely we should really be saying "cheap at half the price but twice as expensive at the price we're paying and that's not necessarily very cheap at all"?

I love the English language - but sometimes it's plain absurd!

Jx aka Confused of Croydon

brightblonde3 58F

10/24/2005 12:37 pm

Count Confused of Croydon: I collect oxymorons...love the little devils. One of my favorites? "Jumbo shrimp." Another fave (don't know if this just an American phrase) "pretty awful."

Ah, more of them could be listed for days. Perhaps an idea for another blog entry, CC of C?


sincitybrunette 55F
1668 posts
10/24/2005 1:08 pm

I will agree with you that the English language can sometimes be crazy..... but then again, look at those of us who still speak it.... lol

expatbrit49 62M

10/24/2005 1:56 pm

Well blow me down and call me shortie

Thank You for Your Time and Attention

rm_EE407 41F
3903 posts
10/24/2005 2:50 pm

uhm.... u just confused me.. lol

AlbertPrince 57M

10/24/2005 3:49 pm

I love words too - they are one of my favourite ways of speaking!

MissAnnThrope 56F
11488 posts
10/25/2005 1:32 am

You know, I actually had to Google to see if I could find anything on the origin of this expression. I was discouraged when I saw even Cecil Adams didn't have an actual answer. But then, I found this:

If something is described as cheap at half the price, then it's reckoned to be very cheap indeed. At first sight this seems a contradiction in terms - surely "cheap at twice the price" would be a better description? However, the phrase is a play on the meaning of "cheap"; in this instance it's not related to price, but rather to quality. Thus something that is of very poor quality could still be thought of as "cheap", even if it were "half the price". It is said that the saying first came into usage in the mid 19th century, when impecunious members of the aristocracy were forced to borrow money from high interest charging money lenders, the lenders themselves being regarded as "cheap" individuals for so demeaning themselves by lending money at such high rates of interest that they would still be regarded as "cheap" even if they charged half the rate.

Makes sense to me.

TheQuietGuy2005 54M
2386 posts
10/26/2005 11:41 pm

MissAnnThrope ... Well found! I had a quick hunt through before I posted this but didn't come across that explanation which, I must agree, does make sense. I suppose it just emphasises how the use of language changes and terms lose their original meaning.

BB3 ... Perhaps you should do the oxymorons in your blog? I can just about cope with the "moron" part ...

Sin ... Point taken!

Expat ... Hiya, shortie {huffs and puffs and blows the man down}

EE ... Sorry, hon ... I did say that this might not make a lot of sense to non-native speakers of this wonderful language!

Al ... What can I say?

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