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“Cats be outside, how about meow”: multimodal humor and creativity in an internet meme

Vasquez, C. and Aslan, E. ORCID: (2021) “Cats be outside, how about meow”: multimodal humor and creativity in an internet meme. Journal of Pragmatics, 171. pp. 101-117. ISSN 0378-2166

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2020.10.006


Adding to research on internet memes and humor, this study examines a set of image macros related to a specific viral media event (i.e., “cash me ousside”). This particular meme is linked to a popular catchphrase uttered by a young teenage girl, who appeared on a 2016 episode of the U.S. television talk show, Dr. Phil. We compiled a dataset of 220 image macros related to this media event from three online platforms. Our analysis focuses on various forms of linguistic humor, which most often rely on multimodal interactions between textual and visual elements. Our findings reveal multiple instances of wordplay involving paronymy as well as register-based humor and humor involving the voicing of recognizable figures. In addition, multimodal play often involves semiotic blends of this particular meme with other popular memes. Overall, our study illustrates unique combinations of unexpected elements and semiotic extensions of a non-standard catchphrase with other visual images, thereby establishing incongruity and generating humorous meanings.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Language and Applied Linguistics
ID Code:93682


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