The contribution is a plea for closer co-operation between sociolinguistics and corpus linguistics in the study of World Englishes, supporting the case with the author’s own findings from the recently completed Jamaican component of the International Corpus of English (ICE-JA). The variables analysed are the use of person(s) as a synonym for people, subject-verb inversion in questions, the modals of obligation and necessity, negative and auxiliary contraction, and the “new” quotative be like. It is a particular advantage of the corpus-linguistic working environment provided by ICE that many of these issues can be studied in a cross-variety, comparative perspective. On the whole, present-day Jamaican English turns out to be rather different from British English, its historical “parent” variety.
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