Compilation of the Jamaican Component of the International Corpus of English


Most Jamaicans tend to think of themselves as English-speaking and therefore regard Patois, the creole language spoken in Jamaica, as some kind of English. Meanwhile, to many linguists it would seem quite plausible to consider English and Patois (the folk designation for Jamaican Creole) two distinct languages in view of the far-reaching differences in syntax and sound pattern. The chief problem for a linguistic description of Caribbean English usage today is to model the relationship between English and the various English-lexifier creoles of the region.

In compiling the "Caribbean" component of ICE it has been decided to sample only texts from Jamaica, the most populous and a culturally very influential community. The make-up of the current release of ICE-Jamaica is heavily biassed towards the written component. Not only has sampling been more difficult for the spoken material than the written. An issue of principle is clearly involved, too - namely the nature of the Creole-English continuum typical of the Caribbean. The written language of Jamaica is English; its spoken language is not simply English but a span of the continuum comprising English and the upper mesolectal range - even for the type of educated speaker envisaged as informant in the ICE guidelines.


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Associated Research Projects

  • Deuber, Dagmar. Style and standards in English in the Caribbean: Morphological and syntactic variation in Jamaica and Trinidad. [Habilitation]
  • Rosenfelder, Ingrid. Sociophonetic variation in educated Jamaican English: An analysis of the spoken component of ICE-Jamaica. [Dissertation]
  • Jantos, Susanne. Morphosyntax in Educated Jamaican English: a comparison of spoken and written usage in ICE-Jamaica. [Dissertation]
  • Höhn, Nicole. Discourse markers in spoken Jamaican English: a corpus-based study. [Dissertation]





International Corpus of English - Jamaica Component
compiled at the University of Freiburg English Department, 79085 Freiburg, Germany
and at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica
contact: Hubert Devonish (, Christian Mair (

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