Words Wanted

1. A Dutch colleague of mine, with whom I sometimes spoke in German, but mostly in English, once asked me (and I don't remember about which language): "What's it called when you use an exaggerated example to make a point very clear?" To illustrate what I think he meant, a girlfriend once told me that she really liked a shirt of mine, except for the buttons, to which I replied that that's like saying that Hitler would have been alright if it hadn't been for the concentration camps and the war and the dictatorship. Apparently the Dutch have a word for this.

2. There should be a word for the tendency to assume others are like oneself combined with wishful thinking. I was reminded of this when reading this, from a US citizen apparently fed up with immigration into his native country:
We are going to have mass deportations and a total immigration timeout in this country beginning in 2011-2012 due to massive civil unrest and extreme discontent throughout the land.
(By the way, pending decent operationalizations of "mass deportations", "massive civil unrest" and "extreme discontent", I'm willing to bet against this prediction.)

I'm pretty sure there are no words for both of these in German and have never come across any in English. Anyone?


Political Scientist said...

1. How about "hyperbole"? e.g. "I like a bit of hyperbole, and anyone who doesn't should be flayed alive".

2. It's not exactly the right term, but "living in cloud cuckoo land" is a rather old fashioned english term for "not on this planet". It comes from Aristophanes, IIRC.

Andrew Hickey said...

"Hyperbole" doesn't convey *quite* the right meaning on its own... hyperbolic simile would...

LemmusLemmus said...

Hello, gentlemen,

I'm still thinking about whether "hyperbolic similie" is exactly what I was looking for. I feel it isn't, but can't say why. Stupid brain!

Concerning "cloud cuckoo land", that is interesting because in German we have the term "Wolkenkuckucksheim" (Wolken = clouds; Kuckuck = cockoo; Heim ~ Home) denoting roughly the same idea. Probably imported from English and it has been in the process of going out of fashion for some fifteen years or so.