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Multimodal Communication

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Multimodal Hyperbole

Gaëlle Ferré
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  • LLING, Université de Nantes, Chemin de la Censive du Tertre BP 81227, 44312 Nantes cedex 3, France
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Published Online: 2014-05-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mc-2014-0003


This paper presents a study of hyperbole in the framework of Multimodal Discourse Analysis, based on video recordings of conversational English. Hyperbole is a figure of speech used to express exaggerated statements which do not correspond to reality but which are nevertheless not perceived as lies. Hyperbole opens up a discourse frame and establishes a new focus on information in speech making that piece of information more salient than surrounding discourse. The emphasis thus created thanks to various semantic-syntactic processes is reflected in prosody and gesture with the use of focalization devices. At last, prosodic patterns and gestures do not only reinforce verbal emphasis, they may fully contribute to the emphasis in a complementary way, and even constitute hyperbolic communicative acts by themselves. In the conclusion, we propose that hyperbole is used by speakers to construct an individual, intersubjective identity element.

Keywords: hyperbole; multimodal discourse analysis; prosodic and gestural enactments


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About the article

Gaëlle Ferré

Gaëlle Ferré is an Associate Professor of English Linguistics at the University of Nantes, France. She mainly teaches English phonetics and phonology but also (multimodal) discourse analysis both at undergraduate and at graduate levels. In research, she works primarily in Multimodality in English and French, adopting a linguistic-oriented approach, which aims at understanding the organization of information from the different modes in speech to form a message, with a strong emphasis on the links between gesture and prosody in discourse units.

Published Online: 2014-05-29

Published in Print: 2014-06-01

Citation Information: Multimodal Communication, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 25–50, ISSN (Online) 2230-6587, ISSN (Print) 2230-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mc-2014-0003.

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