Publication details [#163]

Cano Mora, Laura. 2008. Do we ever make a molehill out of a mountain?: Antithetical extremes in the expression of hyperbole. Revista Electrónica de Lingüística Aplicada 7 : 105–117. 13 pp.
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Although hyperbole is a ubiquitous phenomenon in everyday language, its study, unlike the case of metaphor, has not been the center of attention within the literature devoted to figurative language. The present paper, which revolves around such a trope, zooms in on the production process of exaggeration (see also Cano 2003). On the basis of a corpus of natural-occurring conversations extracted from the British National Corpus (BNC), the author classifies hyperbole into two broad categories, namely, auxesis or amplification and meiosis or diminution (cf. Smith 1657). The data analyzed strongly suggests that speakers tend to overscale reality (e.g. "For six FULL months I couldn't sleep") rather than downscale it (e.g. "She made me feel about TWO INCHES high") when exaggerating. The author concludes that even though auxesis and meiosis represent opposite ends of a continuum, they should be brought together under a working definition of the trope under scrutiny. For that matter, Cano claims that hyperbole may be defined "as as a figure of speech whereby the quantity of an objective fact is subjectively inflated (auxesis) or deflated (meiosis) in varying degrees but always to excess".