Vocabulary-Management Profiles as Unlabelled Tree Diagrams of Discourse

Gilbert Youmans

Most empirical studies of literature calculate statistics for entire texts or groups of texts. Statistics such as these reveal little about the consti- uent structure of discourse. Vocabulary-Management Profiles (VMPs), by con- trast, l)rovide direct visual analogues for constituent structure: major valleys on the VMP typically occur near discourse boundaries-near divisions between paragraphs, episodes, and the like-and major peaks normally occur near the middle of paragraphs, episodes, and so on. Furthermore, the deepest valleys on VMPs tend to correspond with the highest-level divisions within texts (such as the boundaries between the numbered sections of Faulkner’s story "A Rose for Emily"), whereas shallower valleys correspond to lower-level divisions (such as the boundaries between paragraphs or between topics within a paragraph).

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