The ongoing hullabaloo surrounding the presidential primaries in the U.S. brings to sharp focus the fact that Americans are the champions of superlatives and the hyperboles. When the multi-state elections are conducted on the first Tuesday of February, they call it ‘Super Tuesday.” The elections throw up not just delegates but Super-delegates as well.
When the world grappled with the computer in the sixties, Americans came out with Super-computers. And then comes the internet which the Uncle Sam turns into ‘Information Super-highway.” The nation that calls itself a Super-power also is the originator of the ‘Superman.”
Often, the ‘super-concept” appears too small for them. So they graduate from supermarket to Hyper-market. And from supersonic jets to Hyper-sonic aircrafts (those that can fly at more than 5 mach).
The American tendency towards hyperbole can be best seen in the official designations in the corporate world. So, if your US friend says that he is the vice president in a company, don’t gasp in wonderment. For, most of the companies have dozens of vice presidents and, for all you know, your friend’s full designation could be — vice president (sweeping and dusting).
On the contrary, Uncle Sam’s English cousins from across the Atlantic are the pastmasters of understatement. If a furious American says that he is “foaming at mouth”, an Englishman, under similar circumstances, would say that he is “displeased”.