Standard English need not be a matter of prescriptivism or any attempt to ‘create’ a particular standard, but, rather, can be a matter of observation of actual linguistic behaviour. For Hudson (2000), standard English is the kind of English which is written in published work, which is spoken in situations where published writing is most influential – especially in university level education and so in post-university professions – and which is spoken ‘natively’ at home by the ‘professional class’, i.e. people who are most influenced by published writing. In the papers in Bex and Watts (eds, 1999), it is recurrently claimed that, when speaking English, what the ‘social group with highest degree of power, wealth or prestige’ or more neutrally ‘educated people’ or ‘socially admired people’ speak is the variety known as ‘standard English’. However, ‘standard English’ may also mean that shared aspect of English which makes global communication possible. This latter perspective allows for two meanings of ‘standard’: it may refer both to an idealised set of shared features, and also to different sets of national features, reflecting different demographic and political histories and language influences. The methodology adopted in the International Corpus of English (henceforth ICE – cf. Greenbaum, 1996) enables us to observe and investigate each set of features, showing what everybody shares and also what makes each national variety of English different.