As terms are used more frequently within a discourse community the particular attributes of a term may become more precisely identified. This happens as a result of attempting to apply a term to newly emerging technologies or situations (see "limited"), differentiating it from other, more newly introduced terms (see “relative”) and watching how a term unfolds as part of a dialectical process whereupon its definition is continually refined as it is used by one scholar after another.

Precision is an important aspect of a term’s definition, especially as that term evolves, because it helps users identify specific instances in which a term may apply and other instances in which a term may not be suitable but where other terms should be considered or developed (see “limited”). Precision exposes a carefulness of thought that allows a term’s definition to be taken seriously. More importantly, precision is what furthers the evolution of a term because only until boundaries have been drawn around a term can those boundaries be tested and challenged.

The audio segments in this section, from Jonathan Alexander, Anne Wysocki, Gunther Kress, and Cynthia Selfe, illustrate scholars’ use of precise language to define terms like medium, modality, new media and multimodality, in an effort to address the importance of differentiating between a variety of terms that do very different things.
Works Cited