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Virtual smirtual

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Topic: 5) Virtual smirtual (1 of 3), Read 75 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Barbara Wallraff (msgrammar@theatlantic.com)
Date: Wednesday, October 20, 1999 08:50 AM

Terry Elliott, of Apple Valley, Minn., writes, "'Virtual' has come to mean 'anything that exists only in Computer Land and frankly we can't think of a way to describe it otherwise.' But putting on special electronic glasses ('virtual reality') and watching a sports event where the TV station shows an indicator on the track for where the record holder would be at this point in the race ('virtual runner') are wildly different things. Seems a little lazy just adding 'virtual' to the front end of new electronic concepts one can't describe adequately. How about some 'virtual thought' here?"

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Topic: 5) Virtual smirtual (2 of 3), Read 54 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Roger Gay (roger.f.gay@telia.se)
Date: Sunday, October 24, 1999 05:08 AM

I can't quite understand the complaint. Virtual is being used to mean not real but corresponding in some way to something that is real. The word virtual is not of course originally a computer term. It is derived from the latin word for strength, virtue. We use virtual to mean that something has some of the characteristics (virtues, sort of) of a real thing, but isn't the real thing.

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Topic: 5) Virtual smirtual (3 of 3), Read 35 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Matt Swift (swift@alum.mit.edu)
Date: Tuesday, November 02, 1999 05:33 PM

On 10/24/99 5:08:32 AM, Roger Gay wrote:
>I can't quite understand the
>complaint.

I think the challenge is to come up with a more descriptive or interesting alternative in certain cases where `virtual' is used. I think, then, that we need a list of specific terms for which to come up with an alternative. By the truth of the obvservation which prompted the question, `virtual' has such as scope that a single replacement is unlikely to be found, and if it was, would be no more precise than `virtual'. And as Roger points out, `virtual' is accurate, if not very descriptive.

So perhaps let us discuss particular virtual thises and thats.

`Virtual cash' is a lovely redundancy, no?


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