A Pragmatic Analysis of Overstatement And Understatement in English Literary Letters

Asst. prof. Dr. Suhayla H. Majeed, Dr. Kavee Shakir Muhammad




Overstatement and understatements are two devices used in written and spoken discourse. They mean something more or less than the words they mean therefore they cannot be taken literally. They are widely used in most of the literary genres.

An attempt is made to study the sample texts from the literary letters written by romantic and modernist figures in English pragmatically. The texts are selected letters by Lord Byron, Percy Shelly, John Keats, Katharine Mansfield, Dylan Thomas and Rupert Brooks. The pragmatic functions of overstatement and understatement would be recognized through the illocutionary acts conveyed by them, namely assertives, directives, commissives, experssives and declarations. The writers use stating, claiming, praising and blaming often by using these two devices and they express their ideas feelings and emotions indirectly to be polite to their lovers.

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