Not long ago I stepped into an elderly neighbor's house. She was taking a nap, and a relative had left a bowl of soup with a short note ("I brought this soup for you, but you were to sleep.")
Ocracokers routinely use "to" when mainlanders use "at." For example, "She works to the Post Office," or "He's down to the store right now."
I wondered if "asleep" is a contraction of "at sleep"...and if islanders (who still retain many old world English expressions) would have historically said "to sleep" rather than "at sleep." That would explain how the expression "to sleep" has been preserved here, even into the 21st century.
According to Dictionary.com the "a" in "asleep" is "a reduced form of the Old English preposition on, meaning “on,” “in,” “into,” “to,” “toward,” preserved before a noun in a prepositional phrase, forming a predicate adjective or an adverbial element ( afoot; abed; ashore; aside; away )...."
Interesting stuff...at least I find it interesting!
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the recent skirmishes
islanders have had with North Carolina legislatures over the issue of
ferry tolls...and a 1955 newspaper editorial advocating free,
state-operated ferries across Hatteras Inlet. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082113.htm.