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


For our project we selected 12 different meme templates in order to analyze each of their syntactic strutures. For each meme template, we selected 30 memes from the online meme archive, KnowYourMeme. We selected the first 30 memes that were appropriate for all aged viewers in order to keep the selection as randomized as possible. Using XML markup, we broke down the syntax of each meme, labeling each phrase in the text of the meme with corresponding linguistic labels (i.e. subject, object, verb, adverb, preposition, etc.). After compiling this information, we then created a visual representation using bar graphs in order to show more specific information such as the raw number and percentage of null subjects present in our data.


Based on our results, it can be concluded that there is a significant occurence of null subjects in memes. That is to say, the absense of a subject is deemed unnecessary to convey. Our findings suggest that most null subjects result from the character of the image being labeled as the subject, without it explicitly being said. However, there were instances in which the meme template was used incorrectly. Our data is not without faults and further research is needed to gain indepth information, but it does set the basis for there being certain linguistic features present in internet memes.