In this paper we present a profile-based method for analysing regional and register variation, and we explain how we apply it to the study of Belgian and Netherlandic Dutch. A ‘profile’ comprises frequency information about the set of alternative synonymous terms for naming a particular concept. Our comparison of subcorpora is based on differences in naming preferences, as revealed by such profiles. Apart from the actual algorithm for the comparison of subcorpora this paper also addresses some practical issues. In particular the preliminary step of profile selection is addressed: in this context the concept of ‘stable lexical markers’ is introduced.