When a phenomenon becomes important enough, it gets a name. So when you’re analyzing text for netnography and come across a name for a phenomenon, you know it must be important. Prior to that, it’s stories people tell. Here are some examples.
(By the way, Wikipedia can be a source of netnography. Looking at what new terms people are defining can help you identify trends.)
The changeability and ambiguity of names complicates the kind of natural language processing that the NetBase engine performs. Synonymy and polysemy are two important areas in linguistics that present a problem for computational linguistics.
Portmanteaus don’t give rise to polysemy, which occurs when one name is borrowed in its entirety, without manipulation, to describe a new concept. For example, the brand name Tide was borrowed from oceans because the makers wanted to convey something cleansing about tides.
Synonymy and polysemy complicate the task of natural language processing because it’s difficult to know when two names mean the same thing and it’s difficult to know the sense of a name that has multiple meanings (doing so requires word-sense disambiguation).
From a forensic perspective, synonymy and polysemy are ritually revealing about cultures. Synonyms can tell you that different groups saw the same thing, and you may even be able to identify what those groups saw based on their choice of name. Polysemy helps you understand how the first people to see the phenomenon interpreted it and named it based on something they were already familiar with.