My younger sibling sent me memes and i don't understand what ideas they would convey in normal english. Could I ask for a translation here? The emotion they are attempting to convey eludes me. At the moment that sibling is trapped in a world of memes and I don't know any way to reach them.

Its stuff like this and I have no clue what emotion or idea this is supposed to be coveying.



  • 3
    How can we have any idea of what you're talking about when all you have done is to complain without explaining anything about the object of your complaint? For a start, are you sure that 'meme' is the right word for whatever it is? (Look it up on Wikipedia and/or Onelook.com)
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 4:49
  • @ErikKowal yeah it looks like stuff from memegenerator.net
    – user21407
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 5:05
  • @medica - You're looking at the question as it was after the OP added explanatory photos and a URL to their question. My point was perfectly reasonable at the time I first made it, I assure you!
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 1:43
  • @medica - No worries. There's always a risk that one's response(s) may end up appearing to strike a false note in some respect if the OP makes significant edits.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 3:10

3 Answers 3


They are not on-topic for the same reasons that lyrical interpretation is not on-topic. (See Are interpretations of song lyrics, poems or other creative works on-topic? and Why is the meaning of song lyrics off topic).

The short version is that these kinds of meme images are:

  • Creative in nature
  • Deliberately poke at the edges of what constitutes valid English (e.g., I can haz cheezeburger?)
  • Often reference works from pop culture (e.g., your second example is a quote from The Boondock Saints)
  • Are often puns based on common idioms (e.g., your first example is a play on, "What part of no don't you understand?")

While I sympathize that it is nearly impossible to discover the meaning of these kinds of memes on your own, it is not something that ELU is best suited to address. We are here to answer questions about the English language -- not serve as a pop culture reverse lookup.

There are places you can find answers to these questions, however. Know Your Meme does a good job covering the basics. You can also use your favorite search engine to look for any quotes used. If those two methods fail, feel free to pop by chat and ask any of the regular visitors.

  • I agree with all of this, but most particularly the final sentence. I suspect that ELU members in chat probably punch well above their weight in terms of being familiar with a broad range of cultural references. Or at least, they're much better than the average person in terms of being able to look up things they don't know. I don't go to ELU chat myself very often, but it certainly seems to me that when I do stop by there, I'm usually in the company of an awful lot of well-informed and helpful people. The only problem is new users don't have the rep to access chat in the first place. Commented May 9, 2014 at 22:07

It depends of course but most likely no, not on -topic.

Most internet memes, like any particular cultural artifact, popped out of some narrow situation that was then shared and other people seemed to like it and continued sharing.

Sometimes they are language based, but for the most part the hook is cultural.

ELU is not about explaining culture unless of course vocabulary or some other linguistic phenomenon is associated with it. On the other hand, lolcatz is unexplainable.

Frankly, the answer is almost always "They're being sarcastic".


While I respect (and partially agree with) Mr. Hen and Mitch, because of the inability to use chat, the fact that we often do interpret jokes (and song lyrics, poetry, etc.) and, finally, that literacy in language also has an element of cultural literacy involved as well, I wouldn't mind these if the photograph were smaller. I have a thing, I'll admit, about cultural literacy. If someone asked me what Open the pod bay doors, Siri meant, I would be happy to explain.

However, I am also happy to go along with whatever the community wants. I would not want to 'junk up' the site with meaningless or abstruse 'one off' bad memes requests.

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