A New Tool for Discourse Analysis: The Vocabulary-Management Profile
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A Turbo Pascal program is used to generate vocabulary management profiles (VMPs). The program counts the new vocabulary words introduced into a text over successive thirty-five-word intervals, and these numbers are then plotted at the midpoints of their intervals. The resulting VMPs show clearcut peaks and valleys that demarcate constituents in discourse. New episodes in narratives and new topics in essays show up as sharp rises preceded by deep valleys in the curve. This correlation between new vocabulary and new topics suggests that is plausible to interpret VMPs as information-management, as well as vocabulary-management, profiles for a discourse. The VMPs for passages from James Joyce and George Orwell show surprisingly regular alternations between new and repeated vocabulary,reflecting two competing principles that underlie the structure of all discourse--innovation and coherence.
Version of "A New Tool for Discourse Analysis: The Vocabulary-Management Profile" in Language, 67.4 (1991): 763-789.