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What VocabProfilers reveal

Have you heard of “ VocabProfilers”? http://www.lextutor.ca/vp/eng/ This website profiles vocabularies in any given texts and categorizes the words thereof into K1 words (1-1000 vocab. level), K2 words (1001-2000 vocab. level), Academic Word List words (570 words) http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/resources/academicwordlist/ and Off-List words. The main purpose of profiling vocabularies in a text is to identify the difficulty and complexity of the words in written instructional materials that language teachers are going to use. For instance, when a teacher tries creating an original written text, whether scripts for listening practice or passages for reading practice, the level of vocabularies on those materials needs to be somewhat compatible with that of learners he or she is teaching. VocabProfiler is such a website that English language teachers can profile the words in their creation or any texts. Then, an idea occurred to me. I wrote about the article with lots of unfamiliar words in QW 1214. Why not profile the passage cited in QW 1214 and other passage, and compare the configurations of vocabularies?

Here is the result of “Another Thing to Sort of Pin on David Foster Wallace”

K1 (1-1000) 68.99%
K2 (1001-2000) 5.08% (=74.07%)
AWL 5.08%
Off-List 20.86%
Total 100%

This is the result of “The Extraordinary Syllabus of David Foster Wallace”

K1 (1-1000) 79.21%
K2 (1001-2000) 4.02% (=83.23%)
AWL 4.02%
Off-List 12.75%
Total 100%

One of the significant differences between these two results is K1 and K2 words ratio. The ration of K1 and K2 words in the “Another thing” article whose 57 words out of 1761 (3.2%) that I was not familiar with is 74.07% , whereas that of the “Syllabus” article whose 14 words out of 1143 (1.2%) that I was not familiar with is 83.23%. Which accounts for the impression I had that The “Another thing” article was much more difficult than the “Syllabus” article given the fact that K1 and K2 words are considered to be basic and commonly used words.

Another thing worth mentioning is the ratio of the Off-List words. The words excluded from the basic K1 and K2 words and Academic Word List words which are commonly used in academic texts are categorized into “Off-List”. In other words, when the ratio of Off-List words is high, the passage contains less general, more topic-specific words. Off-List words can be terminology or topic-specific words which often seem difficult to a lay reader like me. The “Another thing” article contains Off-List words of 20.86%, and the “Syllabus” article has 12.75%. This contrast between 20.86% and 12.75% invites me to draw a conclusion that the “Another thing” article uses more high level or topic-specific words than the “Syllabus” article, which, again, explains the reason why the “Another thing” article was so perplexing to me.

VocabProfilers

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