Hyperbole是一种修辞手法,意思是“夸张”,是运用丰富的想象力,在客观现实的基础上有目的地放大或缩小事物的形象特征,以增强表达效果的修辞手法。为了启发读者或听者的想象力和加强所说的话的力量,用夸大的词语来形容事物。

Hyperbole lies, but not so as to intend to deceive by lying. . . . It is in common use, as much among the unlearned as among the learned; because there is in all men a natural propensity to magnify or extenuate what comes before them, and no one is contented with the exact truth. But such departure from the truth is pardoned, because we do not affirm what is false. In a word, the hyperbole is a beauty, when the thing itself, of which we have to speak, is in its nature extraordinary; for we are then allowed to say a little more than the truth; and language is more efficient when it goes beyond reality.

夸张带有欺骗性,但并非由目的的欺瞒。夸张的使用很普遍,受过教育与没受过教育的人都会夸大其词,因为人的本性如此,会有意地夸大或减轻他们面对的情况,没有人会满意仅仅陈述事实。但是这样偏离事实是可以被原谅的,因为我们没有规定怎样就算错。换言之,夸张是一种美,当我们所述的内容本身就与众不同,我们就可以稍稍夸大其词;而语言描述在稍微超过事实之后会显得更加有力。

下面节选了Monty Python的Four Yorkshiremen一文中四个人争相比惨的片段,一起来欣赏一下他们的夸张吧~

A: You were lucky. We lived for three months in a brown paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six o'clock in the morning, clean the bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down mill for 14 hours a day week in, week out. When we got home, our Dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt!

“你算幸运了。三个月来,我们一直住在化粪池里的牛皮纸袋里。凌晨六点就要起床,洗干净纸袋,吃点酸腐的面包皮就得到磨坊连续上14个小时的班,日日如此。回家以后,老爸还会用皮带赶我们去睡觉。”


B: Luxury. We used to have to get out of the lake at three o'clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of hot gravel, go to work at the mill every day for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would beat us around the head and neck with a broken bottle, if we were lucky!

“土豪啊你!我们住在湖里,三点就要起床了,清理完湖,吃一把热石头就去磨坊上班了,每个月就挣两便士,回家以后,老爸还会用碎玻璃瓶打我们,而且这还算是幸运的呢!”


C: Well we had it tough. We used to have to get up out of the shoebox at 12 o'clock at night, and lick the road clean with our tongues. We had half a handful of freezing cold gravel, worked 24 hours a day at the mill for four pence every six years, and when we got home, our Dad would slice us in two with a bread knife.

“算了吧,我们才真是活得艰难。午夜12点就从鞋盒里起床,用舌头把路面舔干净。吃的是冷冰冰的石头,还一把都装不满。在磨坊工作24小时,六年挣4便士。回到家,老爸会用刀叉把我们劈成两半。”


D: I had to get up in the morning at 10 o'clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, eat a lump of cold poison, work 29 hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad would kill us, and dance about on our graves singing "Hallelujah."

“我晚上10点就得起床,睡前半小时吃一小块毒药,在磨坊里每天工作29小时,为了这份工作还得向磨坊主交钱。回到家,老爸杀了我们还在我们的坟头上手舞足蹈,高唱‘哈利路亚’。”


A: But you try and tell the young people today that, and they won't believe ya'.

“但是你跟现在的年轻人这样说,他们不会信的。”


All: Nope, nope.

“是啊。”

这样的夸张你会不会信呢?