OSSA Day 1: A. Francisca Snoeck Henkemans on Hyperbole

Snoeck Henkemans, of the University of Amsterdam, argued that hyperbole can have a function in an arguer’s strategic maneuverings during the argumentation stage of a discussion.  This is a topic close to our heart here at the NS, as our paper at OSSA (see later post on that) dealt with the closely related topic of the straw and iron man.

In any case, SH argued that hyperbole, especially aggrandizing hyperbole, can play a legitimate, i.e., ,non fallacious, role in sharpening the focus on elements of someone’s argumentation.  Naturally, this comes from the perspective of pragma-dialectics, which enlarges the forum of argumentation beyond individual propositional moves, giving play to rhetorical elements, like hyperbole.

Problematically, or so people noted, there wasn’t a systematic principled distinction between legitimate and illegitimate hyperboles, as well as a general account of other related distortive speech acts.