Ich habe eine halbe Ewigkeit damit zugebracht, (X) etwas zu tun. Wofür war denn das?
Ich bin um die halbe Welt gereist, (X) um etwas zu tun. Wofür war denn das?
In English, a similar idea is usually phrased as "It took me eons / ages / forever / an eternity to ..." without a word like "halb". As for French, the idea of a long period of time that seems like an eternity is further emphasised with the intensifier "beau": "Ça fait belle lurette que ...".
I've always wondered why German often uses "halb" in hyperbolic expressions like these. There may well be other similar instances where "halb" is used in the same manner. What is the function of "halb" here?
- Does it serve to play down hyperbole? Sort of an understatement?
- Or is this simply considered an idiomatic phrasing?
- Or for some other reason?