According to MIT's technology review site, computer scientists have taken the time to analyse thousands of memorable movie quotes to work out why we remember certain phrases and not others. They've discovered that "memorable phrases contain generic pearls of wisdom expressed with unusual combinations of words in ordinary sentences."
The results are interesting. The phrases themselves turn out to be significantly distinctive, meaning they're made up of combinations of words that are unlikely to appear in the corpus. By contrast, memorable phrases tend to use very ordinary grammatical structures that are highly likely to turn up in the corpus.
They also found that memorable phrases tend to use pronouns (other than you), the indefinite article a rather than the definite article the, and verbs in the past rather than present tense. These are all features that tend to make phrases general rather than specific.
And in case you're wondering the reasons behind this apparently pointless discovery, the scientists state that "future work may lead to applications in marketing, advertising and education." Oh boy.
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