Virtual business: An Enron email corpus study

Research areas:
Year:
2010
Type of Publication:
Article
Authors:
  • Kessler, G.
Journal:
Journal of Pragmatics
Volume:
42
Number:
1
Pages:
262-270
BibTex:
Note:
Kessler, Greg
Abstract:
The word virtual is an exceptional technology oriented neologism deserving explanation. It is commonly accepted as referring to computer simulation or indicating lack of authenticity. However, the increasing polysemic nature of the word virtual has resulted in a much broader range of use within natural language. Many of these meanings appear to increasingly conflict with previously recognized meanings. The author explores contemporary natural language use of the word virtual in the context of the Enron email dataset. This dataset has been selected for three reasons: it represents the largest authentic collection of email available to date, Enron was a tech savvy company with high proclivity for use of neologisms, and Enron has been referred to by some as a virtual company. Examples of virtual in this study indicate broad reference to nearly anything computer related, including computer business, computer based simulation and varied forms of computer mediated communication. It is also observed illustrating inauthenticity, hyperbole and potential deception. This study demonstrates a lack of confidence that suggests an underlying concern about the potential ambiguity of the word virtual, resulting from the increasing polysemic nature of this word. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.