LINGUIST List 29.822

Tue Feb 20 2018

Sum: Pluricentric Languages: Fundamentals

Editor for this issue: Kenneth Steimel <>

Date: 20-Feb-2018
From: Stefan Dollinger <>
Subject: Pluricentric Languages: Fundamentals
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Summary pertaining to LingList Discussion 28-3400 (15 Aug. 2017):

My query from August 2017 on the modelling of languages in a pluricentric framework triggered only a couple, yet highly interesting contributions. This return rate may have been owed to the high-summer time frame, as the topic is otherwise quite popular. Here are the responses in summary:

Greville Corbett (University of Surrey, Guildford, UK) states that on the South Slavic Balkan language a ''heartening initiative'' can be found at:

The declaration states that Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian are four standards of one pluricentric language, and offers two English language articles on it:,

Martin Stegu (WU Wien, Vienna, Austria) commented specifically on the situation of Austrian and German German, which has indeed been complex. One of the key ongoing problems seems to be, Stegu argues, that key sociolinguistic proponents in Germany do not agree that the political dimension is allowed to play a role in sociolinguistics, while many Austrian commentators (those socialized in Austria) deken such function as a-priori. As the discussion has been polemic at times, Stegu argues for a mediating middle ground. Wise counsel, surely.

Meanwhile, I've continued to work on the topic as relating to Austria vs. Germany and Canada vs. the US and have refined my own position. The main problem I have is that the term ''pluri-areality'', which was coined in express opposition to pluricentricity, is theoretically doubtful, to say the least. It is, by all analyses I was able to find, synonymous with the a-theoretical term ''geographical variation'' and is therefor no replacement for a theoretical concept like pluricentricity. This finding has profound science-theoretical and knowledge-theoretical implications. I recommend to avoid the term ''pluri-areality'' and replace it with the original ''geographical variation'', leaving pluricentricity its rightful place in cross-border modelling.

The following paper argues for this case in the Germanic languages (teaser version only due to journal constraints):

There is also a short monograph forthcoming on the same topic a the paper (book proposal, not the finished manuscript):

The latter features an open discussion, which will last for another two week.

I hope you'll find these sources useful.

With apologies for the delay, and thanks to all those who contributed or considered to do so.


Stefan D.

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics
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