“Let us call it a truthful hyperbole!” A Semantic Perspective on Hyperbole in War Poetry on Iraq (2003)
Keywords:Figurative Language, Semantic Fields, Positive Hyperbole, Negative Hyperbole, Modern War Poetry, Iraq, War Reality
As has long been known, though prevalent in everyday discourse across cultures, hyperbole is a neglected figurative language in the linguistic and/or literary sphere. In this talk, we propose a semantic taxonomy of hyperbole in American and British modern war poetry showing how this taxonomy helps readers figure out the poet’s meaning on a deeper level via a variety of hyperboles. The main objectives are to (1) identify the elements of such a trope in the corpora, (2) approach a semantic taxonomy of hyperbolic elements, and (3) come up with the true hidden messages and nature of the trope in accordance with the typology of the semantic field under which the trope is embraced. The corpora consist of two impressive poems – ‘Abu Ghraib’ by Curtis D. Bennett (American), and ‘A Message from Tony Blair to the People of Iraq by David Roberts (British). Findings indicate that both the evaluative and the quantitative dimensions are key characteristics that often coincide and should, therefore, be included in every interpretation of the figurative hyperbolic language in war poetry. A strong preference is also observed for negative effects, auxesis, and absolute savage in the corpora, though the trope sounds positive on the surface.