Such Syntax, Much Meme: A Linguistic Analysis of Memes and Their Structural Syntax

Bad Luck Brian

Meme Example



The Bad Luck Brian meme was first uploaded on to Reddit in 2012, and was originally a picture of a high school boy, who was actually named Kyle. This meme became very popular after the first upload with the top text saying "Takes driving test" and bottom saying "Gets DUI". As you can see from this example, the Bad Luck Brian meme shows a perfectly normal task or action on the top, which usually follows with an unlucky result. This allows the reader to find the humor in the unlucky result and ultimatel relate to the meme or creator of the meme through mututal commiseration.


As we suspected, the Bad Luck Brian meme had a null subject, or subject ellipses, in most of the memes that we studied. This means that the creator of many of these memes chose to omit the subject in each sentence fragment while still being able to communicate what they were trying to say. For the content that was in the memes, they were generally two verb phrases: one in the top text and one in the bottom text.