Pragmatic study on English and Chinese hyperbole

1.  concept and classification

1.1  concept

exaggeration is a deliberate exaggeration, exaggerated or out of the image or the nature and extent of some kind, to highlight certain features, to express the authors a rhetoric of extreme emotion format, often used in people write or speak. The figures of speech in English as hyperbole, also known as the overstatement. Word Hyperbole  comes from Greece huperbole of the language. The Oxford Dictionary of the explanation for it is: "exaggerated statement that is made for special effect and is not meant to be  taken literally." (Use to achieve some special effects exaggerated statements and cannot be literally interpreted. )

the modern Chinese dictionary (Fifth Edition) of exaggeration is defined as: a rhetorical way, in order to inspire the listener or reader's imagination and strengthening words of strength, using high-sounding phrases to describe things.

(1) It seemed millions of ages since I saw you the last time.  (Hyperbole)

(2) peach blossom pool depth of feet, not Wang LUN, your love for me.  (Hyperbole)

(3) It took a few dollars to build this indoor swimming pool.  (Hyperbole)

these three cases are exaggerated rhetoric: (1) millions of ages  is obviously exaggerated, two time intervals to meet what could be millions of years? (2) in the "Lake deep" is a broad concept, how deep is this Lake, readers know, the poet with a vague "feet", not only embodied in the depth of the Lake proper, but also the beauty of artistic conception. (3) in the a few dollars  also belong to the exaggerated, and small swimming pool, nor with a few dollars can build it. Writers use exaggeration, a large amount of expenses easily through was all marvel at the speaker's richness. Is slightly different from two previous cases, in this case of exaggeration is from large to small, narrow exaggeration, two cases were expansion of exaggeration.

1.2  classification

Chinese rhetoric works on classification of exaggeration is unified. Chen Wang-DAO in its call of modern rhetoric of cornerstone and milestone book exaggerated the introduction of rhetoric into two categories: ordinary hyperbole and exaggerated ahead. Exaggeration can be used to describe, can make images vivid and touching; used for reasoning, abstract concrete and profound for simple; lyrics, love, scene, and "I" melt into one another, receive good language effects.

earlier three cases to expand the exaggerated and out of exaggeration, and futuristic exaggerated refers to phenomena said to be after the fact at the phenomena or phenomenon and is now with the first kind of exaggeration (Chen wangdao, 2001:129). According to this definition, as long as deliberately issued after the behavior or action that is in practice, with the first issue of behavior or actions at the same time or before their language is ahead of exaggeration. Example: (4) County receiving notification, immediately drove to the disaster area. Car did not stop, he joined the flood of mass team. (5) farmers say: seeing green shoots, smell the fragrance of white bread. (6) having Tea Cup and chopsticks set two table, baby in the baby immediately put on the table eight or nine bowls, ugh ugh calls out: "Please! "The chopsticks together, such as fengjuancanyun in General, was out of the half. Example, through to greatly shorten the time interval between the two movements, or by deliberately into a subsequent action is happening, rendering legitimate, highlighted the essential characteristics of the characters. This approach not only to express the author's attitude to their feelings, and likely resonated with readers.

advance the use of hyperbole in Chinese examples abound, in English, in fact there are instances. 如:

(7) Before I could finish my words, the tailor had measured me and was giving orders to &Nbsp;his apprentice. I have yet to finish, the tailor's boss out of my body, and commanded the apprentice. ("The boss" Buttering up "me" mentality has been rendered. )

(8) Hardly had I arrived when we had to leave.  I first arrived we leave again. ("I am" reached with "we" left is almost the same time, the urgency of time renders very vivid)

2.  exaggeration and cooperative principle

United States linguist Grice (H. P. Grice) in the 1967  annual lecture presented at Harvard University "principles of cooperation" (Cooperative Principle). In his view, verbal communication is always cooperative, with a common desire on both sides to talk: discourse on both sides to mutual understanding and cooperation. Therefore, they have to comply with certain principles of cooperation, in order to realize this wish. Grice's "principles of cooperation" and its four sessions, is often violated by this quality time in everyday speech:

mass times (Quality Maxim): try to make what you say is true. (A) not to mention self-knowledge is false and (b) not to mention the lack of sufficient evidence.

(9) The Keebler Elves have baked up the lightest, crispiest snacks ever to be called crackers . These extra thin bit-size crackers are rippled with zesty seasonings and crunch just like  your favorite chips, but they're baked, not fried. They're the perfect snack for munching  by the handful.— (Munch'ems)

above is a United States description cracker box, including repeated use of/in structure and extreme meaning of words such as extra thin, the perfect , all their hyperbole phobic customers see it and wants to buy a box of taste.

another example: (10) Those three works  (Dombay and Son)  conveyed the one idea of Mr. Dombay's life. The  earth was made for Dombay and Son to trade in and the sun and moon were made  to give them light. Rivers and seaswere formed to float their ships; rainbows gave them  promise of fair weather; winds blew for or against their enterprises; stars and plants  circled in their orbits to preserve inviolate a system of which they were the centre.

— (Charles Dickens, Dombay and Son)

Dickens to spicy satire, described Mr dombey's smug conviction that specializes in the manufacture of the Earth, is the dombey and trade; the presence of the Sun and the Moon, a lighting effect is to give the Corporation's business activities. Mr dombey's business, in his own eyes in the center of the world. Authors use "exaggerated" rhetoric, exaggerated and distorted plastic embodiment of the arrogant attitude of the bourgeoisie--Mr dombey's image.

(11) he is the captain, busy, although a fine low official position, but not ones that carry iron rice bowl than in the baby in the baby

--(water: the rope song)

in this case than the Sesame one's official position, is very small. In China, described a person's Office is small, common "low official position", such as "magistrate" is "seven low official position."

obviously, the above cases (9), (10), (11), using exaggerated language contrary to the nature of time (Quality Maxim): the speaker do not say what you think is not true, don't say that the absence of adequate evidence. But why such language exists in the language of the statement, and acceptable to the people? As we all know, language of communication without dependence on context. Exaggerated remarks grid in violation session cooperation principles of situation Xia, communication both is also can will communication for down, is based on communication both total of life common sense, and language knowledge and cognitive capacity, listeners can using context and himself by master of knowledge, from talk who of discourse literally meaning in the to inferred out talk who of "session meaning", and talk who in using exaggerated remarks grid Shi on listeners by has of various knowledge and on language of cognitive capacity also has objective of awareness, Know the implied meaning of words can be inferred conjecture and the listener.

pragmatic functions of 3.  exaggerated

from a pragmatic point of view exaggerate such a distinctive figure, will enable us to better understand the exaggeration of the expression really means. In accordance with Grice  principles of human conversation, exaggerated the speaker intended to break the session the results of the quality guidelines. Exaggeration than real words too far, even to the amazing level of thinking as usual.

3.1  cognitive function

exaggerated to a great extent relates to human emotions. People's feelings is the most expansive and undulating in nature, or if the outbreak of volcano or sea lift-Tao, not full and cannot enjoy via. So exaggerated nature "should be born". And once the exaggeration is not "extremely" cannot be expressed, also only a statement to convey the emotions of the speaker and addressee so abundant affection to infection, infection of the complete language function. Whether in English or in Chinese, exaggerated like this through language as an art medium power and performance to achieve cognitive function. 如:

(12) Hamlet: I loved Ophelia; forty thousand brothers could not, with all their quantity of  love, make up my sum. (Shakespeare,Hamlet, VII)

This is Hamlet and Ophelia's brother during an argument, some cases (12) in the hamlet of "40,000 brother love set up is not worth my love" this sentence, expression, exaggerated, but his love for Ophelia is a fact. In Hamlet, he has used the words cannot express, is only a Word to convey his love for Ophelia's fiery, only heavily enough to counter accusations against him.

(13) the mountain!

whipping without saddle.

surprised look back,

three feet away from day three.

(Mao: the 16-word order)

(13) the use of hyperbole in out of reader expectation and vivid description of ruggedness of the mountains, will help convey the meaning: the victory of the long March of the Red Army is not easy.

3.2  functions

hyperbole is not true on the surface, are exaggerated, appear to violate the Grice  quality of the cooperative principles set forth in the guidelines, namely demand speaker do not say what you think is not true, don't say you lack adequate evidence. In fact, exaggerated and explains the concept of authenticity of exaggeration is in fact based on the exaggerated, so, in essence, does not violate the quality guidelines. For example: cases (14)

A:Can we walk there?

B:My left leg weighs three tons.

A:All right, let's take a taxi.

example B  said "leg mishap" clearly exaggerated, but his legs were so heavy to walk way is true, is the real,A  by exaggerating "untrue" correctly understood the B  of the surface of the "real" meaning, causes the session to proceed smoothly.

"Wang Po, selling, traders puff" is the business of professional characteristics. Businessman in advertisements as "traders puff", was "perfectly justified". In advertisements, proper use of exaggeration can give people some sort of drum power and appeal, reach sales communication purposes, such as: case (15)

A million and one uses.

— Fix-All Liquid Cement Co.

(Urdand & Robbins:31)

this advertising product is "universal" (Fix-All), cement glue, of course, to highlight its "universal" applications. But in any case, "1,000,001 uses" is an exaggerated number. Advertising is deliberately made very precise figures, in a humorous way dilute the pretentious feeling.

(16), usually into a drop of water, difficult with the Pacific.


this case through cost-minimizing, maximizing, to attract consumers.

3.3  function

exaggeration means can fully show that writers to express themselves emotional attitude or things or praise or derogatory, or either positive or negative, so that readers have a strong resonance. Exaggerated role, with the emphasis on subjective feelings of smooth, not objective fact records. Emotions are not only aesthetic image formation and development of the internal driving force, and determines the nature, characteristics and function of aesthetic image. Wings of exaggerated requirements written and full of imagination, more images, more vividly the nature of things. In the 19th century United Kingdom poet Alfred Tennyson (Tennyson) of the "The Eagle" (the Eagle) in the poem: "He clasps the crag with crooked hands, Close to the sun in &Nbsp;lonely lands baby "(it is independent on the Sun side) is used by way of hyperbole, we all know the Earth more than 90 million miles from the Sun, Eagle's independent on the Sun side, really have to try with the ruler of high potential.

4.  concluding remarks

hyperbole is a commonly used figures of speech in English and Chinese, it is an author with a wealth of imagination, on the basis of objective reality, deliberately exaggerated or out of things or the degree of expression of a property to an object, used to emphasize the prominent feature, express strong emotions the author, the rhetorical way of enhancing the power and expressiveness of the language.

through the exaggeration of pragmatic analysis, we can see that the exaggerated use actually reflects factors such as the use of two languages in the cultural constraints of the different pragmatic tendencies. Language user the choice of language used to make flexible, to meet your communication needs, and compliance of this language selection process was under the influence of cultural factors. Therefore, the pragmatic analysis of speech, we must give due attention to the role of cultural factors.


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Pragmatic study of English and Chinese hyperbole

WANG Chun-ni

Abstracts: Hyperbole is a very common rhetorical device which is widely used both in English  and Chinese. In order to express his/her strong feelings and also to make his/her language  more powerful, the writer/speaker exaggerates things on purpose. Yet in spite of the over-truth  expression, employment of hyperbole does not affect the conversation flow between parties. Through  an analysis of hyperbole from the perspective of pragmatics, this article tries to explain  the pragmatic functions of hyperbole.

Key words: hyperbole; cooperative principle; pragmatic function