“And they were all like ‘What’s going on?’”

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This paper investigates quotative use in Jamaican and Irish English. The use of <i>be like</i>, <i>go</i> and <i>say</i> is studied on the basis of spoken data from the Jamaican and Irish components of the International Corpus of English. The paper explores to what extent the use of quotatives is affected by the factors &#8220;register&#8221;, &#8220;collection period&#8221;, &#8220;grammatical person of the quotative&#8221;, &#8220;content of the quote&#8221; and &#8220;speaker sex&#8221;. While both the person and content are suggested as global constraints in previous studies, the findings for <i>be like</i> reveal that only the person constraint is significant in ICE-Ireland and that only the content constraint is significant in ICE-Jamaica. The study also shows that the development of <i>be like </i>in Irish English does not straightforwardly follow predictions made. Keywords: quotative; ICE-Jamaica; ICE-Ireland; spoken English; variationist approach


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