DICTION 5.0 by Dr. Roderick P. Hart

DICTION 5.0 counts words based on 33 separate dictionaries (such as familiarity, human interest, tenacity, and self-reference) and two sets of variables and creates numerical frequencies and standard scores for these lists of words. Included with the dictionary scores are scores for five master variables and four calculated variables. The calculated variables, which are based on word ratios, include: (1) insistence, a measure of  “code-restriction” that indicates a “preference for a limited, ordered world”; (2) embellishment, a measure of the ratio of adjectives to verbs; (3) variety, a measure of conformity to, or avoidance of, a limited set of expressions (different words/total words); and (4) complexity, a measure of word size based on the Flesch method. The master variables, which the program assumes best capture the major tonal features of a text, are derived from calculations using the scores from the 33 dictionaries and include: (1) certainty, a measure of language “indicating resoluteness, inflexibility, and completeness and a tendency to speak ex cathedra”; (2) activity, a measure of “movement, change, [and] the implementation of ideas and the avoidance of inertia”; (3) optimism, a measure of “language endorsing some person, group, concept or event or highlighting their positive entailments”; (4) realism, a measure of language “describing tangible, immediate, recognizable matters that affect people’s everyday lives”; and (5) commonality, a measure of language “highlighting the agreed-upon values of a group and rejecting idiosyncratic modes of engagement." One of the strengths of DICTION 5.0 is that it can compare texts to several sets of norms based on Hart's research over the past 17 years. The norms are based on the analysis of 22,027 texts of various sorts written between 1948 and 1998.

The data produced by DICTION 5.0 includes scores compared to a "normal range" and standard scores that indicate standard deviations from the norm. Hart's use of the term "normal range" is somewhat idiosyncratic. It does not refer to the range of plus or minus two standard deviations from the mean, encompassing 95 percent of the data, as the term is typically used in statistical analysis. Instead, Hart uses the term to indicate the range of plus or minus one standard deviation. This normal range encompasses 68 percent of the data. Any score outside the normal range is considered statistically significant in DICTION 5.0. The standard score of an observation is the number of standard deviation units it is above or below the mean; the larger the standard score, the farther it is from the mean.


Formulas for the Master Variables


Certainty = [Tenac. + Level. + Collec. + Insist.] - [Numer. + Ambiv. + Self + Variety]

Optimism = [Praise + Satis. + Inspir.] - [Blame + Hard. +Denial]

Realism = [Famil. + Spat. + Temp. +Prsnt. + Human. + Concr.] - [Past + Complx.]

Activity = [Aggres. + Accomp. + Commun. + Motion] - [Cog. + Passv. + Embell.]

Commonality = [Centr. + Coop. + Rapport] - [Divers. + Exclu. + Liber.]

Descriptions of the Dictionaries and Scores


Accomplishment: Words expressing task-completion (establish, finish, influence, proceed) and organized human behavior (motivated, influence, leader, manage). Includes capitalistic terms (buy, produce, employees, sell), modes of expansion (grow, increase, generate, construction) and general functionality (handling, strengthen, succeed, outputs). Also included is programmatic language: agenda, enacted, working, leadership.

Aggression: A dictionary embracing human competition and forceful action. Its terms connote physical energy (blast, crash, explode, collide), social domination (conquest, attacking, dictatorships, violation), and goal-directedness (crusade, commanded, challenging, overcome). In addition, words associated with personal triumph (mastered, rambunctious, pushy), excess human energy (prod, poke, pound, shove), disassembly (dismantle, demolish, overturn, veto) and resistance (prevent, reduce, defend, curbed) are included.

Ambivalence: Words expressing hesitation or uncertainty, implying a speaker's inability or unwillingness to commit to the verbalization being made. Included are hedges (allegedly, perhaps, might), statements of inexactness (almost, approximate, vague, somewhere) and confusion (baffled, puzzling, hesitate). Also included are words of restrained possibility (could, would, he'd) and mystery (dilemma, guess, suppose, seems).


Blame: Terms designating social inappropriateness (mean, naive, sloppy, stupid) as well as downright evil (fascist, blood-thirsty, repugnant, malicious) compose this dictionary. In addition, adjectives describing unfortunate circumstances (bankrupt, rash, morbid, embarrassing) or unplanned vicissitudes (weary, nervous, painful, detrimental) are included. The dictionary also contains outright denigrations: cruel, illegitimate, offensive, miserly.


Centrality: Terms denoting institutional regularities and/or substantive agreement on core values. Included are indigenous terms (native, basic, innate) and designations of legitimacy (orthodox, decorum, constitutional, ratified), systematicity (paradigm, bureaucratic, ritualistic), and typicality (standardized, matter-of-fact, regularity). Also included are terms of congruence (conformity, mandate, unanimous), predictability (expected, continuity, reliable), and universality (womankind, perennial, landmarks).


Cognitive Terms: Words referring to cerebral processes, both functional and imaginative. Included are modes of discovery (learn, deliberate, consider, compare) and domains of study (biology, psychology, logic, economics). The dictionary includes mental challenges (question, forget, re-examine, paradoxes), institutional learning practices (graduation, teaching, classrooms), as well as three forms of intellection: intuitional (invent, perceive, speculate, interpret), rationalistic (estimate, examine, reasonable, strategies), and calculative (diagnose, analyze, software, fact-finding).


Collectives: Singular nouns connoting plurality that function to decrease specificity. These words reflect a dependence on categorical modes of thought. Included are social groupings (crowd, choir, team, humanity), task groups (army, congress, legislature, staff) and geographical entities (county, world, kingdom, republic).

Communication: Terms referring to social interaction, both face-to-face (listen, interview, read, speak) and mediated (film, videotape, telephone, e-mail). The dictionary includes both modes of intercourse (translate, quote, scripts, broadcast) and moods of intercourse (chat, declare, flatter, demand). Other terms refer to social actors (reporter, spokesperson, advocates, preacher) and a variety of social purposes (hint, rebuke, respond, persuade).


Complexity: A simple measure of the average number of characters-per-word in a given input file. Borrows Rudolph Flesch's (1951) notion that convoluted phrasings make a text's ideas abstract and its implications unclear.


Concreteness: A large dictionary possessing no thematic unity other than tangibility and materiality. Included are sociological units (peasants, African-Americans, Catholics), occupational groups (carpenter, manufacturer, policewoman), and political alignments (Communists, congressman, Europeans). Also incorporated are physical structures (courthouse, temple, store), forms of diversion (television, football, CD-ROM), terms of accountancy (mortgage, wages, finances), and modes of transportation (airplane, ship, bicycle). In addition, the dictionary includes body parts (stomach, eyes, lips), articles of clothing (slacks, pants, shirt), household animals (cat, insects, horse) and foodstuffs (wine, grain, sugar), and general elements of nature (oil, silk, sand).


Cooperation: Terms designating behavioral interactions among people that often result in a group product. Included are designations of formal work relations (unions, schoolmates, caucus) and informal associations (chum, partner, cronies) to more intimate interactions (sisterhood, friendship, comrade). Also included are neutral interactions (consolidate, mediate, alignment), job-related tasks (network, détente, exchange), personal involvement (teamwork, sharing, contribute), and self-denial (public-spirited, care-taking, self-sacrifice).


Denial: A dictionary consisting of standard negative contractions (aren't, shouldn't, don't), negative functions words (nor, not, nay), and terms designating null sets (nothing, nobody, none).


Diversity: Words describing individuals or groups of individuals differing from the norm. Such distinctiveness may be comparatively neutral (inconsistent, contrasting, non-conformist) but it can also be positive (exceptional, unique, individualistic) and negative (illegitimate, rabble-rouser, extremist). Functionally, heterogeneity may be an asset (far-flung, dispersed, diffuse) or a liability (factionalism, deviancy, quirky) as can its characterizations: rare vs. queer, variety vs. jumble, distinctive vs. disobedient.


Exclusion: A dictionary describing the sources and effects of social isolation. Such seclusion can be phrased passively (displaced, sequestered) as well as positively (self-contained, self-sufficient) and negatively (outlaws, repudiated). Moreover, it can result from voluntary forces (secede, privacy) and involuntary forces (ostracize, forsake, discriminate) and from both personality factors (small-mindedness, loneliness) and political factors (right-wingers, nihilism). Exclusion is often a dialectical concept: hermit vs. derelict, refugee vs. pariah, discard vs. spurn).


Familiarity: Consists of a selected number of C.K. Ogden's (1968) "operation" words which he calculates to be the most common words in the English language. Included are common prepositions (across, over, through), demonstrative pronouns (this, that) and interrogative pronouns (who, what), and a variety of particles, conjunctions and connectives (a, for, so).


Hardship: This dictionary contains natural disasters (earthquake, starvation, tornado, pollution), hostile actions (killers, bankruptcy, enemies, vices) and censurable human behavior (infidelity, despots, betrayal). It also includes unsavory political outcomes (injustice, slavery, exploitation, rebellion) as well as normal human fears (grief, unemployment, died, apprehension) and incapacities (error, cop-outs, weakness).


Human Interest: An adaptation of Rudolf Flesch's notion that concentrating on people and their activities gives discourse a life-like quality. Included are standard personal pronouns (he, his, ourselves, them), family members and relations (cousin, wife, grandchild, uncle), and generic terms (friend, baby, human, persons).

Inspiration: Abstract virtues deserving of universal respect. Most of the terms in this dictionary are nouns isolating desirable moral qualities (faith, honesty, self-sacrifice, virtue) as well as attractive personal qualities (courage, dedication, wisdom, mercy). Social and political ideals are also included: patriotism, success, education, justice.

Leveling: Words used to ignore individual differences and to build a sense of completeness and assurance. Included are totalizing terms (everybody, anyone, each, fully), adverbs of permanence (always, completely, inevitably, consistently), and resolute adjectives (unconditional, consummate, absolute, open-and-shut).


Liberation: Terms describing the maximizing of individual choice (autonomous, open-minded, options) and the rejection of social conventions (unencumbered, radical, released). Liberation is motivated by both personality factors (eccentric, impetuous, flighty) and political forces (suffrage, liberty, freedom, emancipation) and may produce dramatic outcomes (exodus, riotous, deliverance) or subdued effects (loosen, disentangle, outpouring). Liberatory terms also admit to rival characterizations: exemption vs. loophole, elope vs. abscond, uninhibited vs. outlandish.


Motion: Terms connoting human movement (bustle, job, lurch, leap), physical processes (circulate, momentum, revolve, twist), journeys (barnstorm, jaunt, wandering, travels), speed (lickety-split, nimble, zip, whistle-stop), and modes of transit (ride, fly, glide, swim).


Numerical Terms: Any sum, date, or product specifying the facts in a given case. This dictionary treats each isolated integer as a single "word" and each separate group of integers as a single word. In addition, the dictionary contains common numbers in lexical format (one, tenfold, hundred, zero) as well as terms indicating numerical operations (subtract, divide, multiply, percentage) and quantitative topics (digitize, tally, mathematics). The presumption is that Numerical Terms hyper-specify a claim, thus detracting from its universality.


Passivity: Words ranging from neutrality to inactivity. Includes terms of compliance (allow, tame, appeasement), docility (submit, contented, sluggish), and cessation (arrested, capitulate, refrain, yielding). Also contains tokens of inertness (backward, immobile, silence, inhibit) and disinterest (unconcerned, nonchalant, stoic), as well as tranquillity (quietly, sleepy, vacation).


Present Concern: A selective list of present-tense verbs extrapolated from C.K. Ogden's list of "general" and "picturable" terms, all of which occur with great frequency in standard American English. The dictionary is not topic-specific but points instead to general physical activity (cough, taste, sing, take), social operations (canvass, touch, govern, meet), and task-performance (make, cook, print, paint).


Past Concern: The past-tense forms of the verbs contained in the Present Concern dictionary.


Praise: Affirmations of some person, group, or abstract entity. Included are terms isolating important social qualities (dear, delightful, witty), physical qualities (mighty, handsome, beautiful), intellectual qualities (shrewd, bright, vigilant, reasonable), entrepreneurial qualities (successful, conscientious, renowned), and moral qualities (faithful, good, noble). All terms in this dictionary are adjectives.


Rapport: This dictionary describes attitudinal similarities among groups of people. Included are terms of affinity (congenial, camaraderie, companion), assent (approve, vouched, warrants), deference (tolerant, willing, permission), and identity (equivalent, resemble, consensus).


Satisfaction: Terms associated with positive affective states (cheerful, passionate, happiness), with moments of undiminished joy (thanks, smile, welcome) and pleasurable diversion (excited, fun, lucky), or with moments of triumph (celebrating, pride, auspicious). Also included are words of nurturance: healing, encourage, secure, relieved.


Self-Reference: All first-person references, including I, I'd, I'll, I'm, I've, me, mine, my, myself. Self-references are treated as acts of "indexing" whereby the locus of action appears to reside in the speaker and not in the world at large (thereby implicitly acknowledging the speaker's limited vision).


Spatial Awareness: Terms referring to geographical entities, physical distances, and modes of measurement. Included are general geographical terms (abroad, elbow-room, locale, outdoors) as well as specific ones (Ceylon, Kuwait, Poland). Also included are politically defined locations (county, fatherland, municipality, ward), points on the compass (east, southwest) and the globe (latitude, coastal, border, snowbelt), as well as terms of scale (kilometer, map, spacious), quality (vacant, out-of-the-way, disoriented) and change (pilgrimage, migrated, frontier.)


Temporal Awareness: Terms that fix a person, idea, or event within a specific time-interval, thereby signaling a concern for concrete and practical matters. The dictionary designates literal time (century, instant, mid-morning) as well as metaphorical designations (lingering, seniority, nowadays). Also included are calendrical terms (autumn, year-round, weekend), elliptical terms (spontaneously, postpone, transitional), and judgmental terms (premature, obsolete, punctual).


Tenacity: All uses of the verb "to be" (is, am, will, shall), three definitive verb forms (has, must, do) and their variants, as well as all associated contractions (he'll, they've, ain't). These verbs connote confidence and totality.


Example of a DICTION 5.0 report.


            President Bush Calls on Congress to Act 9-23-02.txt

Total Words Analyzed:       4372
Total Characters Analyzed: 26450
Average Word Size:          4.49
Number of Different Words:  1909
Alpha-numeric Identifier: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Descriptive Identifier:

Active Custom Dictionaries:
Character Counts:         (none)
View Character Counts:    No
View Word Counts:         No
Small File Option:        Report extrapolations
Large File Option:        Averaged (Analyze maximum 500,000 words)
Numeric File Name:        C:\Program Files\Diction\Data\Research.num
Use Comma Separator:      Yes
Print Input Text:         No
View Input Text:          No

Normative Values
  Class:  Politics
  Type:   Public Policy Speeches

Standard Dictionary Totals

Variable          Frequency  % of Words   Normal Range    Standard  Out of
                             Analyzed     Low     High    Score     Range

 Numerical Terms     3.32       0.66         2.18   16.02   -0.60
 Ambivalence        11.53       2.31         3.84   18.05   -0.11
 Self-reference      7.88       1.58         0.37   16.58   -0.05
 Tenacity           29.69       5.94        27.25   39.13   -0.19
 Leveling Terms     13.76       2.75         4.08   12.96    1.20   *
 Collectives        15.40       3.08         7.51   15.91    0.90
 Praise              9.81       1.96         3.84   10.14    0.91
 Satisfaction        7.68       1.54         0.00    6.00    1.60   *
 Inspiration         5.90       1.18         4.91   10.90   -0.19
 Blame               0.55       0.11         0.00    3.72   -0.79
 Hardship            8.49       1.70         1.18    9.91    0.65
 Aggression          6.16       1.23         0.00   10.90   -0.01
 Accomplishment     10.73       2.15         9.56   21.52   -0.48
 Communication       9.58       1.92         1.93   11.11    0.67
 Cognition          11.18       2.24         5.12   13.13    0.57
 Passivity           3.13       0.63         0.00    8.94   -0.67
 Spatial Terms      19.56       3.91         1.61   23.00    0.59
 Familiarity       113.73      22.75       127.13  147.31   -1.57   *
 Temporal Terms     10.70       2.14        11.94   23.99   -0.87   *
 Present Concern    21.50       4.30         0.00   16.52    2.01   *
 Human Interest     41.89       8.38        22.60   43.78    0.85
 Concreteness       22.50       4.50        18.29   29.41    0.21
 Past Concern        4.00       0.80         0.47    5.79    0.26
 Centrality          0.85       0.17         2.27    6.97   -1.11   *
 Rapport             0.82       0.16         0.00    4.14   -0.84
 Cooperation         6.62       1.32         3.09    8.46    0.51
 Diversity           1.38       0.28         0.00    3.36   -0.23
 Exclusion           1.43       0.29         0.00    4.15   -0.34
 Liberation          2.46       0.49         0.00    5.51   -0.04
 Denial              9.06       1.81         4.29    9.81    0.79
 Motion              3.42       0.68         0.00    4.29    0.57

Custom Dictionary Totals

Dictionary                 Occurrences
Words for Insistence Score

Word                             Occurrences

 ABLE                             3
 AMERICA                          51
 APPLAUSE                         19
 ATTACK                           3
 BEING                            3
 BEST                             3
 BILL                             17
 BORDER                           4
 BUDGET                           4
 CHILD                            8
 CHILDREN                         4
 COMPASSIONATE                    3
 CONCERNED                        3
 CONGRESS                         14
 COUNTRY                          23
 DAY                              4
 DEPARTMENT                       3
 DIFFERENT                        8
 ECONOMIC                         4
 ECONOMY                          3
 ENEMY                            9
 ENERGY                           5
 EVIL                             6
 FISCAL                           3
 FREEDOM                          3
 FUTURE                           3
 GOOD                             14
 GOVERNMENT                       3
 GOVERNOR                         3
 GROWTH                           5
 GUARD                            3
 HATE                             5
 HIDE                             6
 HOMELAND                         4
 IDEA                             3
 INCREDIBLE                       3
 INSTITUTIONS                     3
 ISSUE                            3
 JERSEY                           4
 JOBS                             3
 JUSTICE                          3
 LEADER                           5
 LEGACY                           4
 LEVEL                            3
 LIFE                             5
 LONG                             3
 LOVE                             10
 MAN                              4
 MEANS                            7
 MONEY                            12
 NATIONS                          5
 NEED                             12
 NEIGHBOR                         4
 NEW                              8
 NEWS                             4
 ORDER                            3
 PEACE                            7
 PEACEFUL                         4
 PEOPLE                           20
 PLACE                            4
 PLACES                           3
 PRESIDENT                        3
 PRIORITIES                       3
 RELIEF                           3
 RESOLUTION                       3
 RESPONSIBILITY                   3
 RIGHT                            5
 SECURE                           3
 SECURITY                         7
 SEPTEMBER                        4
 SERVICE                          4
 SET                              3
 SPENDING                         9
 STATES                           3
 STRENGTH                         3
 STRONG                           3
 STRONGER                         4
 SYSTEMS                          3
 TALKS                            3
 TAX                              3
 TEMPORARY                        4
 THOUGHT                          7
 THREAT                           3
 THREATS                          6
 TIME                             3
 TOUGH                            5
 UNITED                           7
 UNIVERSAL                        3
 WAR                              5
 WASHINGTON                       9
 WAY                              3
 WEAPONS                          4
 WORK                             12
 WORKERS                          3
 WORLD                            8

Calculated Variables

Variable          Frequency  Normal Range    Standard  Out of
                             Low     High    Score     Range

 Insistence         57.76      40.51   72.39    0.53
 Embellishment       0.44       0.64    1.12   -0.55   *
 Variety             0.49       0.22    0.53    0.01
 Complexity          4.49       2.09    4.87   -0.38

Master Variables

Variable          Score      Normal Range    Out of
                             Low     High    Range

 Activity           51.40      47.25   52.53
 Optimism           51.68      47.97   53.07
 Certainty          53.18      47.68   52.59 *
 Realism            51.34      48.42   53.47
 Commonality        49.18      49.91   52.37 *

The Rhetorica Network