Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2542-3851
  • E-ISSN: 2542-386X
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Internet memes are meaningful objects of diverse shapes that spread across networks of mediated participation (term from Milner 2012: 10). The distribution and reception of memes bears aspects of communicative interaction, because memes establish usage conventions. This paper will be concerned with the pragmatics of Internet memes. Given that flexibility, novelty and originality are driving forces in meme culture, the question arises how traditional pragmatic notions like and can be said to apply for the interaction with memes. Kecskes’ (2008201020122014Kecskes and Zhang 2009) distinction between core common ground and emergent common ground will be discussed and put to use for an explanation of the complex interactive dynamics of Internet communication. This modern form of communication oscillates between reference to shared cultural contents and the establishment and perpetuation of conventions on the one hand, and the pursuit of originality on the other hand. This paper will demonstrate how memes can vary with respect to the degree to which they require core common ground or the generation of emergent common ground for their proper usage. The scale presented as a result of the discussion represents a continuum of the prevalence of semantics versus pragmatics involved in the usage and interpretation of memes.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): common ground; digital media; Internet culture; Internet memes; pragmatics
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