Memes misunderstood

Comments on Liu (2006)

Xie, Chaoqun, Ziran He and Blackmore, S

Foreign Language Education 28(3):11-15.

Liu (2006) criticizes meme theory for being lack of disciplinary independence and theoretical scientificity. This paper engages in an academic dialogue with Liu in terms of the definition of the meme notion, meme transmission patterns, and the meme theory’s disciplinary basis, research scope and scientificity. It is shown in this article that (1) memes are transmitted by means of imitation mainly, and anything that is transmitted by imitation can be regarded as a meme; (2) the life span of a meme can be either long or short, and whoever is affected by a meme and spreads it is likely to become the meme’s host; (3) memes and genes are not the same and cannot be equivalent to each other; (4) meme theory not only stresses description, but also emphasizes explanation in an attempt to further understanding of language, culture, thought, cognition and humanity per se; (5) metaphorical thinking does not affect the scientificity of meme theory; (6) meme theory not only bears close relations to but also sheds new light on other disciplines; (7) both nature and nurture may exercise influence over meme transmission; (8) meme theory does not exclude the issue of intentionality; (9) not only does meme theory want to investigate how people acquire ideas, it also wants to scrutinize how ideas acquire people, that is, how ideas manipulate people; and (10) the time for discussing the scientificity of meme theory is not yet ripe.