International Corpus of English

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The International Corpus of English (ICE) is a set of corpora representing varieties of English from around the world. Over twenty countries or groups of countries where English is the first language or an official second language are included.


The project began in 1990 with the primary aim of collecting material for comparative studies of English worldwide. Twenty-three research teams around the world are preparing electronic corpora of their own national or regional variety of English. Each ICE corpus consists of one million words of spoken and written English produced after 1989. For most participating countries, the ICE project is stimulating the first systematic investigation of the national variety. To ensure compatibility among the component corpora, each team is following a common corpus design, as well as a common scheme for grammatical annotation.


Each corpus contains one million words in 500 texts of 2000 words, following the sampling methodology used for the Brown Corpus. Unlike Brown or the Lancaster-Oslo-Bergen (LOB) Corpus (or indeed mega-corpora such as the British National Corpus), however, the majority of texts are derived from spoken data.

ICE corpora contain 60% (600,000 words) of orthographically transcribed spoken English. The father of the project, Sidney Greenbaum, insisted on the primacy of the spoken word, following Randolph Quirk and Jan Svartvik's collaboration on the original London-Lund Corpus (LLC). This emphasis on word-for-word transcription marks out ICE from many other corpora, including those containing, e.g. parliamentary or legal paraphrases.

The British Component of ICE, ICE-GB, is fully parsed with a detailed Quirk et al.[1] phrase structure grammar, and the analyses have been thoroughly checked and completed. This analysis includes a part-of-speech tagging and parsing of the entire corpus. The treebank can be thoroughly searched and explored with the ICE Corpus Utility Program or ICECUP software. More information is in the handbook.[2]

To ensure compatibility between the individual corpora in ICE, each team is following a common corpus design, as well as a common scheme for grammatical annotation.[3]


The current list of participant countries are (*= available):

  • Australia
  • Cameroon
  • Canada*
  • East Africa (Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania)*
  • Fiji
  • Ghana
  • Great Britain* (parsed)
  • Hong Kong*
  • India*
  • Ireland*
  • Jamaica*
  • Kenya
  • Malta
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand*
  • Nigeria* (tagged)
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines*
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore*
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA


  1. ^ Quirk, Randolph, Greenbaum, Sidney, Leech, Geoffrey and Svartvik, Jan (1985). A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language London: Longman
  2. ^ Nelson, Gerald, Wallis, Sean, and Aarts, Bas (2002). Exploring Natural Language. Working with the British Component of the International Corpus of English Amsterdam: John Benjamins
  3. ^ The International Corpus of English website

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