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Phép ngoa dụ/cường điệu – hyperbole – trong tiếng Anh

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Warm-up:

Một cô gái mặc váy ngắn bước lên tàu điện. Không còn chỗ ngồi, cô nhìn quanh. Vừa lúc đó có một chàng trai trẻ mời:
– Cô có thể ngồi lên đùi tôi.
– Tôi sợ làm gãy cái tẩu thuốc lá trong túi quần của anh.
Chàng trai trẻ chưa kịp đáp lại thì ông già khoảng 70 tuổi ân cần nói:
– Cô có thể ngồi trên đùi tôi, vì tôi đã bỏ thuốc 10 năm nay rồi.

 


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Hyperbole

[pronounced: hy-PER-buh-lee]

Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred,
Then another thousand, then a second hundred,
Then still another thousand, then a hundred
Catullus

Definition

Hyperbole is a figure of speech that uses an exaggerated or extravagant statement to create a strong emotional response. It is from a Greek word meaning “excess.”

Hyperboles can be found in literature and oral communication. They would not be used in nonfiction works, like medical journals or research papers; but, they are perfect for fictional works, especially to add color to a character or humor to the story.

Hyperboles are comparisons, like similes and metaphors, but are extravagant and even ridiculous.

The media and the advertising industry often use hyperbole (which may then be described as hype or media hype).

See more below:

Hyperboles Add Excitement and Fun

A boring story can come to life or become comical with the use of a hyperbole. Some examples of hyperboles include:

  • It was so cold, I saw polar bears wearing jackets
  • She is so dumb, she thinks Taco Bell is a Mexican phone company
  • I am so hungry I could eat a horse.
  • I have a million things to do.
  • I had to walk 15 miles to school in the snow, uphill.
  • I had a ton of homework.
  • If I can’t buy that new game, I will die.
  • He is as skinny as a toothpick.
  • This car goes faster than the speed of light.
  • That new car costs a bazillion dollars.
  • We are so poor; we don’t have two cents to rub together.
  • That joke is so old, the last time I heard it I was riding on a dinosaur.
  • They ran like greased lightning.
  • He’s got tons of money.
  • You could have knocked me over with a feather.
  • Her brain is the size of a pea.
  • He is older than the hills.
  • She is as big as an elephant!
  • I have told you a million times not to lie!

Hyperboles in Media and Literature

If used properly, a hyperbole can encourage consumers to buy products.

Marketing research from Roger J. Kreuz, PhD for the Military Personnel Research Science Workshop in June 2001 in Memphis TN, has shown that 75% of ads use at least one figure of speech. Examples of hyperboles in advertising include:

  • “adds amazing luster for infinite, mirror-like shine” (Brilliant Brunette shampoo)
  • “It doesn’t get better than this” (Oscar Meyer)

A great example of hyperbole in literature comes from Paul Bunyan’s opening remarks in the American folktale Babe, the Blue Ox:

“Well now, one winter it was so cold that all the geese flew backward and all the fish moved south and even the snow turned blue. Late at night, it got so frigid that all spoken words froze solid afore they could be heard. People had to wait until sunup to find out what folks were talking about the night before.”

Another example comes from “As I Walked Out One Evening” by W.H. Auden:

“I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you till China and Africa meet,

And the river jumps over the mountain

And the salmon sing in the street,

I’ll love you till the ocean

Is folded and hung up to dry

And the seven stars go squawking

Like geese about the sky.”

Following are some short hyperboles from literature:

  • The skin on her face was as thin and drawn as tight as the skin of onion and her eyes were gray and sharp like the points of two picks.
  • It was not a mere man he was holding, but a giant; or a block of granite. The pull was unendurable. The pain unendurable.
  • People moved slowly then. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County.
  • It’s a slow burg. I spent a couple of weeks there one day.
  • Why does a boy who’s fast as a jet take all day and sometimes two to get to school?

Remember, hyperboles can be found in many sources including literature and oral communication. Look for these fun comparisons!

 

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