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In old cartoons, particularly "Little Red Riding Rabbit" of Looney Tunes, characters say "to have" with a meaning that seems different to the modern sense. For example, in the said cartoon, Little Red Riding Hood says that she is bringing a rabbit to her grandma "to have, see?".

What is the meaning of "to have" in that case?

That cartoon is not the only instance I've heard it but I can't recall any other exact cases. It just seems out of place in modern English and I'm convinced it's more than just the literal meaning of "having" or "to eat" in little red's case.

I don't mean this in an "I'm learning English" kind of way but in a "how was this used in colloquial spoken English in the ~40s" kind of way.

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  • More context is need for “to have, see?” Can you link to a cartoon? Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 21:42
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    youtu.be/0TwubBMMAQQ?t=70
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 21:42
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    In that context I would interpret it to mean "to have to eat".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 21:45
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    Although it might be intended to mean "to keep" (vs taking it home when I leave).
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 22:05
  • @HotLicks I don't think that what she's saying at 1:20 is "to have."
    – alphabet
    Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 23:02

1 Answer 1

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Based on this “Little Red Riding Rabbit” TVTropes page, ta have is an affectation of Red:

Verbal Tic: Red ends a lot of her lines with the exclamation “Ta’ Have!”, just another thing that makes her so very irritating.

The Likely Looney, Mostly Merrie blog reports:

Red is stereotyped as a loud, obnoxious bobby-soxer teenager - vocalised irritatingly by Bea Benaderet with great comedy values. . . . The character was the inspiration of radio comedian Cass Daley - and Michael Maltese’s young daughter! Daley was known for her energy and loudness; but some of Red’s childlike dialogue (“ta-have!”) was adapted from Maltese’s daughter.

This is backed up by the TVTropes Trivia page for “Little Red Riding Rabbit”:

According to Mike Maltese’s daughter, Brenda, “I was that obnoxious girl [in the Bugs Bunny cartoon’ Little Red Riding Rabbit.’]” Brenda used to shout “Ta have!” as a girl and Mike put it in the story. When this cartoon was released in 1944, Brenda Maltese was not quite six years old, a little young for the part, so she was drawn as a teenage bobby-soxer, in a parody of comedienne Cass Daley.

You can see the full version of “Little Red Riding Rabbit” and all of Red’s ta haves at https://archive.org/details/looney-tunes-s-1944e-01-little-red-riding-rabbit.

So, unless you can find instances of ta have uttered by people other than Red (minus those inspired by her), to have means nothing beyond the usual sense of to own or to possess.

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  • Excellent research, +1!
    – alphabet
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 2:40
  • That's definitely great research but why would a bobby-soxer or another person say "ta have" like that? What does it mean that it is "childlike"? THIS is what I'm trying to understand.
    – notarobot
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 21:15

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