The aim of this project is to compile a corpus of Fiji English as part of the International Corpus of English (ICE) .
Why a corpus of Fiji English?
English has been used in Fiji since the early 19th century when the first European settlers arrived there. Today it is one of the three official languages besides Hindi and Fijian. It is not only used for official purposes but also as a lingua franca for Fijians and Indo-Fijians who represent 51% and 44% of the population, respectively. Most Fijians and Indo-Fijians speak English as a second language. With roughly 900,000 inhabitants Fiji also has the largest population of English speakers in the South Pacific. Fiji plays a central role in the South Pacific not only due to its location but also as a meeting point of Melanesian and Polynesian culture. (For more information see Mugler, France & Jan Tent. 1996. "Why a Fiji corpus?" In: Greenbaum, Sidney (ed.). Comparing English Worldwide – The International Corpus of English. Oxford , 249-261).
A Fiji corpus will provide researchers with data to do quantitative (and qualitative) research on Fiji English. It will enable them to describe special features of this variety of English. With a Fiji corpus additional data is gained within the ICE-framework to compare varieties of English as a second language.
The creation of the International Corpus of English (ICE) is a major project in which corpus linguists worldwide take part to compile comparable corpora of different varieties of English. Among the components already released are ICE-New Zealand, ICE-India, ICE-GB, ICE-Singapore and ICE-East Africa (For information on the other ICE-corpora see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/english-usage/ice/index.htm ). A Fijian component has not been compiled yet and a corpus design similar to that of the other ICE corpora will ensure that findings on Fiji English can be compared with results from the other ICE corpora.
How to compile ICE-Fiji?
As the other corpora in the ICE family, the Fiji component will consist of approximately 300 texts of spoken Fijian English and 200 texts of written Fijian English. The approximate length of each sample is 2,000 words, giving a total of about 1,000,000 words. Only texts produced after 1989 will be used. In our case most texts are much more recent. The text categories range from direct conversation, parliamentary debates and broadcast talks to student essays, academic writing and fiction (For a full description of the text categories see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/english-usage/ice/design.htm ). The authors of the texts are adults of 18+ who are of Fijian or Indo-Fijian origin who use English as a second language. They are residents of Fiji who ideally have lived in Fiji since the age of 10 and have spent less than 10 years abroad. A major challenge of this project is to find texts which fit into the ICE text categories. This does not only concern the authors' background but also the fact that English is not necessarily used in parliamentary debates or the fact that Fijian fiction is quite different from our Western idea of fiction. In addition to that it is not easy to get access to private letters. As the category of e-mail correspondence does not exist in the older ICE-corpora a replacement of private letters by emails may question the comparability of the corpora.