William & Mary Law Review


Carla L. Reyes


Work at the intersection of blockchain technology and law suffers from a distinct linguistic disadvantage. As a highly interdisciplinary area of inquiry, legal researchers, lawmakers, researchers in the technical sciences, and the public all talk past each other, using the same words, but as different terms of art. Evidence of these language wars largely derives from anecdote. To better assess the nature and scope of the problem, this Article uses corpus linguistics to reveal the inherent value conflicts embedded in definitional differences and debates related to developing regulation in one specific area of the blockchain technology ecosystem: cryptocurrency. Using cryptocurrency as a case study reveals the delicate balance necessary to develop law in even the best popularly understood area of blockchain technology. In doing so, the Article demonstrates that corpus linguistics offers a tool for identifying specific linguistic ambiguities before they are embedded in law, ultimately enhancing the clarity, predictability, and coherency of the regulatory regimes to which cryptocurrency is subject.