Presentation on theme: "Elena Lathrop Sociology, B.A. University of California, Los Angeles"— Presentation transcript:
1Elena Lathrop Sociology, B.A. University of California, Los Angeles THE LANGUAGE BEHINDElena LathropSociology, B.A.University of California, Los AngelesINTERNET MEMES
2WHAT IS A MEME?From the Ancient Greek work “mimɛma” meaning “something imitated”Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture”On the Internet, they take the form of concepts that spread, such as images, videos, hyperlinks, acronyms, or even ironically misspelled words/typos such as “teh” instead of “the” or “pwn” instead of “own”In this presentation, I will focus on images coupled with text
4WHAT TYPES OF LINGUISTIC PHENOMENA DO THESE INTERNET MEMES EXHIBIT? They are extremely productive – there are over 75,000 categories of image memes, with new categories being created dailyCategory-specific:RecursionGarden path sentencesSyntactic structures mimicking child speech
5THE “XZIBIT YO DAWG” MEME - RECURSION Also called the “Recursive Xzibit” meme on some websites
6THE “XZIBIT YO DAWG” MEME - RECURSION Clauses can be embedded within sentences to obtain recursionTheoretically, this can be done infinitelyEx.: I said that Mary told Suzy that John said […]The “Xzibit Yo Dawg” meme demonstrates adjunct recursion
9THE “SUCCESSFUL BLACK MAN” MEME – GARDEN PATH SENTENCES Meant to seem racist and stereotypical, until one reads the entire sentence from top to bottom
10THE “SUCCESSFUL BLACK MAN” MEME – GARDEN PATH SENTENCES Example: The horse raced past the barn fell.Upon hearing this sentence, the speaker wants to insert a period after “barn”, yielding this structure:
11THE “SUCCESSFUL BLACK MAN” MEME – GARDEN PATH SENTENCES …but with the word fell at the end of the sentence, The horse raced past the barn is a reduced relative clause (it does not contain a who or that) and the theme of the action fallSounds awkward and ungrammatical to most native speakers, but is actually grammatically correct
12THE “SUCCESSFUL BLACK MAN” MEME – GARDEN PATH SENTENCES My father left us.
13THE “SUCCESSFUL BLACK MAN” MEME – GARDEN PATH SENTENCES My father left us a large estate […]
15THE “Y U NO GUY” MEME – CHILD SPEECH Brain, why don’t you work?
16THE “Y U NO GUY” MEME – CHILD SPEECH Brain, why you no work?English sentence lacking do-support, and therefore no head (T to C) movement
17THE “Y U NO GUY” MEME – CHILD SPEECH This resembles the speech of English language learners aged 1-4 (Brown 1968, Bellugi 1971, Stromswold 1990, Guasti & Rizzi 1996)They tend to leave out auxiliaries such as do, producing “auxless questions”They tend to lack subject-auxiliary inversion, especially in negated questionsThey have no auxiliary to invert in the first place, since it is often omittedThey avoid raising Neg. to TThey lack do-insertionExamples: Where daddy go? What daddy have?They use no instead of not in negated sentences (Kliman & Bellugi 1966)
18CONCLUSIONSInternet memes demonstrate recursion, garden path sentences, and child speech in ways that make them humorous and ironicTheir syntactic structures are different than those of Standard American English, yet still systematicNative speakers can create new and different ways of speaking their language, yet maintain understanding and productivityEvidence for Chomsky’s Universal Grammar (UG)