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Current time:0:00Total duration:5:43

Video transcript

hello grammarians hello David hello Rosie today we're going to talk about understatement and overstatement I could not be more excited this is like the coolest thing that's happened to me all week oh my gosh really no I mean I'm excited this is a really interesting topic but I was deliberately overstating yeah I mean it's pretty cold but that is that does is that is a perfect example David of what overstatement is so we're going to look at a couple examples of what writers will do sometimes two I would say both understand an overstatement really help to drive a point home we're going to start with understatement so David you want to read this sentence sure so you kidnapped my dog drove to New Orleans without telling anyone and ate the last cookie that I was saving yeah I am like vaguely unhappy this is a horrible thing that just happened so when you said yeah I'm like vaguely unhappy after this huge list of horrible things that the supposed friend has done you know it's clear that that you are more than just a little vaguely unhappy to be clear grammarians rosie did not do any of these things thank you David is it a sentence is a work of fiction thank you for letting me off the hook there cool so what we're trying to express in the sentence is that this is something that should make the speaker or the writer quite unhappy but what we're doing here is deliberately understating the case to further drive home the point that this is actually quite serious exactly so ironically while the writer is using minimizing language saying I am vaguely unhappy or like vaguely unhappy which serves to further qualify that statement the fact that they're saying that after such a litany of sins like cookie even that should all really serve to drive home the opposite effect so this a textbook example of understatement all right so we've seen an example of understatement let's take a look at what an overstatement might look like my life is over I got a D on the midterm I am dead I am literally a skeleton oh wow so this is a great a great example of overstatement so we know this isn't true right I'm a daddy on your midterm not great but is it truly and actually the end of someone's life no and this author this writer knows that knows what they're saying because skeletons can't write exactly and you might have also heard of hyperbole which is what this is this is like weig exaggeration but it serves to drive home this person's point that they feel really bad that they got a D on this midterm and this is a very effective way of conveying to us how upset they are even though they're not literally a skeleton and they don't think they're literally a skeleton I think the emotional impact of this is much more effective than it would be if I just said I am very upset because I got a D on my midterm well I think this is more expressive and certainly it's not true but I think there's an interesting way to play with over an understatement in order to get feelings across I think I think there's like a little bit of a taboo in American English speaking culture to to literally say the state of your emotions and so we've discovered these cultural idioms through which we transmit emotion so like compare the following two examples delivered by Rosie okay I'm very angry or yeah you could say I'm I'm a little upset now Rosie is using understatement but I think and I feel that the the statement that uses understatement actually conveys more anger because it's more socially acceptable in the United States to somewhat publicly repress your emotions yeah exactly I mean you could hear somebody saying yeah I think I'm pretty upset about that and they're kind of laughing but they're upset you can see the glorious subtlety of these language techniques and and I understand this this can make English a minefield for people trying to learn the language because the subtext of what you're saying with overstatement and understatement is more important than the text itself exactly and I it's very difficult to to learn to interpret those cues there are plenty of native speakers who have trouble with it it's true and it's just something that you can keep an eye out for when you're reading and also when you're talking to people it may start to you may start to spot them more as you add you listen and I suspect that if you listen and you study I have this sneaking minut suspicion that you can learn anything David out Randy out that was awesome