Clive Thompson writes about the rise of subordinate clauses as complete thoughts in online writing like tweets and Facebook updates. You know, the ones that begin, “When you …” or “That moment when …”:
The point is, it’s up to you imagine the rest of the utterance. It’s like the author is handing you a little puzzle. Subordinate-clause tweets and Yik-Yak postings seduce us into filling out that missing info, McCulloch says. “Our brain has to work a little bit harder to figure out what it’s referring to, and so making that connection is very satisfying. It’s like getting a joke. You have to draw that connection for yourself a little bit — but because you can do it, it works really well.”
It’s not just a clever turn of phrase or a puzzle, either. It helps your readers identify with you (“Yes, I know just how you feel when that happens!”), it gets right to the point (useful for those 140-character witticisms), and perhaps most exciting, it paves the way for language change. Innovation can happen anywhere we’re experimenting and playing with language.
Read more: That Way We’re All Writing Now