Perhaps literally is a bit of an overstatement? I wouldn't associate any real assessment of cleverness with this expression. I understand it as more like he's a smartarse.Charles Costante said:It literally means what it says, that the person is less than half as intelligent as s/he thinks he is.
Much as I am prone to exaggeration Panj, in this particular case I actually do mean literally. Encarta defines not half as much less than half .panjandrum said:Perhaps literally is a bit of an overstatement? I wouldn't associate any real assessment of cleverness with this expression. I understand it as more like he's a smartarse.
Panj, the examples that Encarta gives with that definition are:panjandrum said:Indeed, I accept the literal definition of not half.
But I suggest that the use of not half in not half as clever is idiomatic, not metric. You would hardly expect me to have found out what IQ this guy thought he had and to have made a reliable assessment of his actual IQ?
In the not half as clever context, I would settle for not nearly as clever.not half: a long way from the due amount; to a very slight extent;
in mod. slang and colloq. use = not at all, the reverse of, as ‘not half bad’ = not at all bad, rather good;
‘not half a bad fellow’ = a good fellow;
‘not half long enough’ = not nearly long enough;
also (slang), extremely, violently, as ‘he didn't half swear’.
This is slightly different to not half as. It would fit into the first meaning given by Encarta as follows:cirrus said:Panj's understanding of not half is similar to mine.
Not half as clever as he thinks he is to me means they overestimate their own intelligence. Nothing like as clever as he likes to think he is would convey the same meaning.
I've thought of wider uses of not half:
Imagine a hot day in London. Difficult to believe, I know, but it happens.
a. Hot, innit?
b. Not half!
When b replies "not half" b doesn't mean <50% hot. In fact it means they are agreeing with a.
I think we must have found an antipodean* difference of interpretation.Charles Costante said:2. much less than half
She's not half as busy as you are.
This isn't half the fun I thought it would be.
Since Encarta is an American dictionary I would say that is correct. I don't think it's antipodean though. Australians and New Zealanders would probably translate it as not nearly as, but it would seem it can be translated literally as well.panjandrum said:I think we must have found an antipodean* difference of interpretation.
She's not half as busy as you are, has no sense of metric in my mind. To me, that means She's not nearly as busy as you are.
*Edit - or AE/BE, I should say.
Most of them would probably translate that as not nearly as. That doesn't make the Encarta dictionary meaning invalid though.panjandrum said:Maybe when our AE friends have struggled out of bed and finished their breakfast we'll get a view from over there
This gets us back close to the point about measuring. If we are to take the original statement (You're not half as clever as you think you are) literally, then there has to be some measure of clever that you can apply, you have to assess how clever "you" thinks he is, and you have to assess how clever "you" actually isKelly B said:[...]There is a similar expression, "He's too clever by half," which means more or less the same.
I interpret it differently: he is too clever for his own good (50% more than he should be, I suppose), and it's going to get him into trouble one of these days.
AE viewpoint= You are far from being as clever as you think you are."You are not half as clever as you think you are."