The Vocabulary-Management Profile: Two Stories by William Faulkner
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The Vocabulary-Management Profile (VMP) is a graph of the moving average of the number of new vocabulary words introduced over successive intervals of text. Peaks and valleys on the VMP correlate closely with narrative structure: new episodes, new settings, new characters are signaled by an increase in new vocabulary, and hence by upturns on the curve. Conversely, downturns in the VMP normally signal a continuation of the episode, description, or characterization. Higher-level boundaries in discourse (such as those between paragraphs and narrative episodes) normally correspond with deeper valleys on VMPs than do lower-level boundaries (such as those between clauses and sentences). Hence, VMPs provide surprisingly accurate graphical representations of the hierarchical structure of discourse. In general, the VMPs for "A Rose for Emily" and "Dry September" confirm this close correspondence between VMPs and narrative structure. However, VMPs are formally equivalent to unlabeled tree diagrams, and like such diagrams, they can provide only partial, not complete analogues for the structure of discourse.
Version of: "The Vocabulary-Management Profile: Two Stories by William Faulkner" in Empirical Studies of the Arts, 12.2 (1994): 113-130.