ICE-Ireland : A User’s Guide.

Book Review
ICE-Ireland: A User s Guide
Jeffrey L. Kallen, & John M. Kirk. Belfast: Cli³ Ollscoil na Banri­ona, 2008. Pp. 1-106.

Reviewed by Vander Viana
Queen s University Belfast
Northern Ireland, UK

Here is a book which may be of great interest to those interested in working with the Irish data of the International Corpus of English (ICE). Indeed, in ICE-Ireland: A User s Guide, Kallen and Kirk offer a comprehensive description of the Ireland component of ICE, a joint venture which aims at collecting comparable samples of English language texts across countries where English is spoken either as a first or second language.

To achieve their purpose, the authors divide the volume into three parts, plus a list of references. Part A introduces the background information in relation to the corpus. For the most part, readers will find specificities such as the team involved in corpus compilation, the terms and conditions for using the corpus, copyright issues and publications which have been made on the corpus. There is also a section on the development of ICE-Ireland detailing how the corpus came to life, which readers might find informative.

Part B is probably the most relevant one to ICE-Ireland users as it offers a clear report on how the corpus was transcribed, structured, and formatted. Additionally, extensive word lists are provided to allow readers insight into how corpus data were treated as regards (non-) hyphenated words, single words and specific spellings. The lengthiest section in this second part concerns a thorough account of texts and speakers/writers. As regards the spoken component of the corpus, there is information on the geographical background of the speaker, the time period in which the text was produced as well as personal data such as sex, age, place of residence and provenance, educational level, occupation, religion, mother tongue and other languages s/he might speak. On the other hand, the written part is documented (where possible) in terms of the author, title of the text, title of the volume where it was originally published, and date of publication. A general description of the writers per group (North and South) is also provided, following the categories established for the spoken component of the corpus.

Part C offers an account of Englishes and how Irish English fits into this major panorama. It is here that readers are informed about the principles which have guided the authors in compiling the corpus, together with its possible future uses.

The volume is a much needed publication for those who want to explore ICE-Ireland for two main reasons. First, it provides users with minute details about the corpus, which is more than welcome. Second, it brings an inventory of participants, making it possible to trace back several specificities about most of the contributors. This second feature is of special interest to those who want to conduct contrastive studies on the English spoken in both parts of the border (Northern Ireland vs. the Republic of Ireland), for instance.

The only issue which should be taken into account in a future edition is that, for the novice ICE user, some description of text types might come in handy. Additionally, given that all the publications related to ICE-Ireland are authored by the corpus directors, it would be a fitting add-on if they had been annotated, giving readers a glimpse of what they might find in them.

At a time when more and more corpora are being compiled, it is of utmost importance that they be accompanied by documentation. As Sinclair (2005) puts it, [a] corpus that sets out to represent a language or a variety of a language cannot predict what queries will be made of it, so users must be able to refer to its make-up in order to interpret results accurately (p. 7). This is exactly where the contribution of the publication lies namely, indicating all decisions which have been taken in the course of compiling this specific

Sinclair J. Corpus and text: basic principles. In: WYNNE, M. (Ed.). Developing linguistic corpora: a guide to good practice. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2005. p. 1-16.