take5_d_shorterer wrote:Once you stated the meaning of it, that's how I thought the meaning might have evolved.
"Can't half" might be a double negative like "not not" which is logically a positive.
While double negatives (e.g., "not untoward") can occur in American English, I usually associate them with British English.
When double negatives are used colloquially in the US, they are used for emphasis on the negative (e.g., "not nothing").
Returning to "bad", I think this was originally used to confuse people on the outside. A lot of this has to do with history of race in the United States.
Looking around on the web, some places are claiming that "can't half" originated in the East End.
This is getting far away from the original premise of the thread, but I'd rather talk about idiomatic use of English than whether or not people like Syd Barrett.
"Can't half" play isn't a double negative, I don't think. It's "He can't half play..." as in he can play "the whole thing." See also, "It's ain't half hot, mum." It's "whole hot" = as hot as can be.
Back to the original premise of the thread:
Arthur: fascinating, auteur-like and a great live entertainer. Wrote and performed on some of the greatest songs ever released.
Nick: beautiful, echoing voice, beautiful guitar playing, great songs. Got my vote, but it could have been Arthur.
Syd: I quite like Bike.