Superlatives that Exaggerate

Id Ka Chaand | 22/07/2004, 07:34 hrs

This is truly a 'supremely contentious' topic that needs people's utmost attention ...well I guess my readers have already got an idea of the syndrome I am going to write about. Yes, it is about the seemingly needless exaggeration and hyperbole that most of us use in our day to day conversation.

 Here is a sample of the superlatives that most of us tend to use. 'Awesome' is probably the most abused word currently. We exclaim the word 'awesome' for anything from BMW to Bamboo sticks. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason as to why we would call something 'awesome'. Thus the listener is left with no standard by which she/he can assess, how good something is.

 Another word that is 'great'ly abused is the word 'great' itself. The dictionary meaning goes as follows: 'anything that is remarkable or outstanding'. But, in today's context, anything from cooking 'moong dal' ( Pulses)to organizing a moon-mission would be accompanied by the superlative,'great'. Great !!!!!

 Here is a another much maligned word. It's abuse has attained 'legendary' proportions. The word is nothing other than 'legend' and its  grammatical variant-'legendary'. Apart from the word's rightful association with the works of some eminent people, most of the times it is associated with anyone and everyone.The media helps to fan the flames by encouraging its rabid usage. Thus a new kid in the block with no apparent achievements, will be a legend without much ado. I don't mean it elevates her/him, I mean it undermines the worth of the word. If a historian asserts that ' Alexander the Great' is a Legend. It should impart  to the reader about the stature of the man who has been described by it. Symbiotically the word derives value from the stature of the men it describes. Thanks to our liberal usage of such words, if one has to reconstruct Alexander the Great's true stature one would have to say," he strides like a colossus amongst the greatest of legends". It is also a sad reflection of dilution of such impactful words more than the greatness of 'Alexander the Macedon'.

 It also talks of a society with impatience. People want to be well-known with relatively simpler achievements. Anyone with a bunch of sychopants becomes a legend of their times.When people of the stature of Gandhi, Bhagat Singh,Subhash Chandra Bose and Sir C.V.Raman are open to scrutiny by generations, it does sound preposterous that lesser mortals should be called legendary people at the drop of a hat. At best they could be distinguished achievers of their respective fields. Let us keep it so.

 There is an urgent need to use superlatives only when the achievement is superlative too. We can start the change from cricket commentaries, where words as 'great, tremendous, fabulous,fantastic, and sensational' are often used for ordinary achievements on the field. Atleast, there should be a screaming disclaimer that- "only a fraction of the enormity that the superlative conveys should be attributed to the events that are described".

 Some might argue, it will make the world a boring place if everything is stated as such. I agree, but definitely hyping every single thing takes away from singular achievements. One needs to show care to distinguish between the 'greats' and the 'distinguished'.Let us therefore begin to put in a 'Herculean effort' to achieve this 'Monumental Change'....oops...I mean...let us just 'stem the rot'.

Current Mood: Preachy
Current Music: Gladiator background score

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Responses to Superlatives that Exaggerate

  1. Great, tremendous, fabulous,fantastic, sensational.
    What a post to start with. :D

  2. Awesome! :D

    "Rocks!" is another superlative thats no great shakes either.

    Point well made, I thought.

  3. darn, everybody seems to have had the same idea for the comments :P
    It was a really good post though, keep them coming dude

  4. hehe.. good one, id ka chand!

    PS: don't let your next post become an "id ka chand".. now fullhyd has GREAT expectations from u :P

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