Using “On-the-Fly Corpus Linguistics” to Systematically Derive Word Definitions Using Inductive Abstraction and Reductionist Correlation Analysis: Considering Seductive and Gratifying Properties of Computer Jargon

Using “On-the-Fly Corpus Linguistics” to Systematically Derive Word Definitions Using Inductive Abstraction and Reductionist Correlation Analysis: Considering Seductive and Gratifying Properties of Computer Jargon

Jonathan Bishop (Centre for Research into Online Communities and E-Learning Systems, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8595-6.ch009
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Computer jargon is something that can either unite people, or draw them apart. This chapter looks at definitions of the terms, ‘trolling,' ‘flame,' ‘flame-war' and ‘lurking,' as presented in specialist dictionaries, newspapers and through a survey of laypersons. The aim of the chapter was to see whether it was possible to objectively define terms using a quantitative analysis of qualitative data. The study finds that objectively determining a definition of a term requires a bigger dataset than is used for qualitative studies. It further notes that whilst there is a lot in common with expert definitions, the problem with drawing definitions from others is that whilst it might produce objective definitions they might not be accurate ones.
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Too many without a self-awareness of their own philosophy of science, or their ‘grand-narrative’ or ‘meta-narrative,’ there are so many certainties in life. The way they see science, perceived through the lens of stereotypes of scientists wearing white-coats and doing experiments in a lab, is how science is done. They then assume any belief they have which is scientific must automatically be valid and have got through the process used in the natural sciences, namely the neo-classical philosophy of science called ‘positivism.’ Positivism is based on the premises that it is possible to objectively view the world through calibrated instruments and equations, and that hypothesis testing is how those tools can be most objectively used. Those people who see the only way to conduct science as being through this neo-classical positivist approach often fail to realise that the instruments and equations they are using were designed by other people using their own mental faculties to socially construct those paradigms using rigorous internal mental logic resulting from observing, abstracting, reducing and confirming. If it were not for the likes of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein using their mind to understand the universe, positivists today would not have the means to – perhaps in a delusional way – think they can objectively observe the same universe. Equally, if it were not for Ronald Fisher and Karl Pearson, among others, devising statistical principles like correlation (r) and significance (p) then those positivists who use statistics in a perhaps delusional way – thinking they are being objective with a tool that is not their or someone else’s mind – would have no credibility in arguing that quantitative approaches to science have any more benefit in research in terms of generalizability than qualitative ones. It is worth noting, however, that qualitative researchers who use qualitative data to draw out common themes in data – often called phenomenologists – are using the same mental faculties that were used by Newton, Einstein, Fisher and Pearson to derive the tests that quantitative research claim to be more objective. This chapter therefore seeks to show how it is possible to use both the mind the researcher through inductive data abstraction and the tests devised by Fisher and Pearson to systematically derive definitions of words, based on their wider use by many different sources.

Derrirda: Difference and Differance

The French philosopher Jacques Derrida devised the concepts of “différence” and “différence” (Derrida, 2001; Derrida, 1982), which are translated into English as “differance” and “difference,” respectively. The term difference reflects the fact that the existence of one term is distinct from the existence of a different term (i.e. each is spelled differently). The term differance reflects the fact that in order to understand a term, one needs to use lots of other words to understand it. In other words, the difference between the ‘Web’ and ‘Net’ is that the latter is short for ‘Internet’ and the former is not. The differance of the words is less obvious. But, simply put, the differance of the Web will be that it refers to a network of website, whereas Net refers to a network of computers (Bucki, 1999; Crumlish, 1995; Edmonds & Gray, 2002; Jansen & James, 1995; Pfaffenberger, 1995).

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