edited by Rudolf Muhr, Rudolf Muhr

The present volume contains ten contributions. Six of them were presented in Stockholm at the workshop “The Theory and Description of Pluricentric Languages- Beyond Concepts of Dominance and Non-Dominance, which was hosted at the conference “The Languages, Nations, Cultures: Pluricentric Languages in Context(s) Conference was held at Stockholm University in May 2019. Four other contributions have been accepted because some of the papers presented at the workshop could not be delivered because of difficulties beyond the control of the authors. Although many of these papers still utilize the concepts of dominance and non-dominance, they are used to advance the theory of pluricentricity in general or are used as tools to explain other linguistic or social phenomena. Each contribution, in its own way, is a testimony to the usefulness of pluricentricity as a theoretical framework. And, they show that the alternative concept of “pluriareality” that is favoured by some linguists working on German has no theoretical basis and cannot describe pluricentric languages correctly.

Keywords: , , , , , , , , ,

Language(s) dealt with: , , , ,


published by PCL-PRESS (Graz/Berlin)

October 1, 2020 | 208 pages | ISBN 978-3-753106-73-1

The individual articles of the publication for viewing and downloading

Frontmatter and Table of Contents


TOC, Preface | pp. 19 |

Pluriareality in sociolinguistics: A comprehensive overview of key ideas and a critique of linguistic data used


Pluricentric Theory, Pluriareality overview, German, Linguistic data, Critique | pp. 978 |

This paper examines the “pluriareal concept” in German linguistics. Its proponents focus on proving that Austrian German does not exist and also claim that the concept of pluricentricity is not applicable to because of the overlapping usage of some Austriacisms with Bavaria and other regions in the of south of Germany. The literature review yielded 7 claims by the first group that was active until the mid 2000s. A second group of supporters started in the late 2000s and after 2010 by drawing on many claims of the first group and by adding new claims. A critical discussion of these claims, however, shows that they are not tenable. As the second group is bringing forward empirical data from their research projects to back their arguments, three chapters of this paper are devoted to counter-check these data with the effect that all claims were refuted by our own empirical data . The data of the so-called “grammar of variants” (Variantengrammatik), which was primarily used to support the pluriareal arguments, were also scrutized. It turns out that the text-corpus is neither representative nor balanced casting their results into doubt. The results were additionally counter-checked by using a representative corpus of newspaper texts. This revealed again a gross number of false results which make the data of the entire project appear useless, since about 85% of the published data turned out to be incorrect. The arguments of the pluriareal concept are refuted one by one and it is shown that there is no alternative to the concept of the pluricentricity of languages.

Pluriarealität in der Soziolinguistik: Deutsche Version von “Pluriareality in Sociolinguistics”.


Pluricentrische Theorie, Überblick über Pluriarealität, Deutsch, Sprachdaten, Kritik |

This is the German version of the original English article “Pluriareality in sociolinguistics: A comprehensive overview of key ideas and a critique of linguistic data used”. It is intended for a predominantly German-speaking audience. The translation was done by the author (Rudolf Muhr) himself. This article is NOT part of the publication “Pluricentric Theory beyond Dominance and Non-Dominance: A Critical View”, but is an addition to allow better accessibility to the publication. **** Dies ist die deutschsprachige Version des im Original auf Englisch geschriebenen Artikels „Pluriareality in sociolinguistics: A comprehensive overview of key ideas and a critique of linguistic data used“. Sie soll einen vorwiegend deutschsprachigen Adressatenkreis ansprechen und kann von der Internetseite von PCL-Press heruntergeladen werden. Die Übersetzung wurde vom Autor (Rudolf Muhr) selbst vorgenommen. Dieser Artikel ist KEIN Teil der Publikation “Pluricentric Theory beyond Dominance and Non-Dominance: A Critical View”, sondern eine Zugabe, um eine bessere Zugänglichkeit der Publikation zu ermöglichen.

Contact-induced pluricentricity? The role of Anglicisms in forging a new variety of Spanish


Contact-induced pluricentricity, US-Spanish, Puerto Rican Spanish, Dominican Spanish, Sociometric methods | pp. 7990 |

The field of education was well represented in the Spanish spoken in Utica, New York. Five Anglicisms were selected: high school, elementary school, university, kindergarten, and scholarship. The sets of denotational synonyms (terms that refer to the same concept) for each were determined for Utica, United States, Puerto Rican and Dominican Spanish. This study seeks to determine whether the intense contact situation between English and Spanish is helping to form a new variety of Spanish in Utica and the United States. Quantitative measurements will be used to assess the impact of English and the uniformities and divergence among the varieties using sociometric methods.

Central axioms of pluricentricity revisited. A validity-check beyond theory: the example of German


Pluricentricity central axioms, Austrian German, German German, Swiss German | pp. 91104 |

The concept of pluricentricity as a scientific theory is based on a number of axioms; central ones are concerned with the aspects relevance, correctness and standardness of various dominant and non-dominant standard varieties and the respective speakers’ perceptions of these varieties. This paper deals with these propositions and evidence of their validation. To achieve this, studies of the last three decades will be checked to see whether these central propositions of pluricentricity hold true or not, using the example of the German language and its dominant variety, German Standard German, and its non-dominant varieties, Austrian Standard German and Swiss Standard German.

Karelian: a pluricentric language?


Karelian, Finnish, Pluricentric theory | pp. 105120 |

Karelian is a Baltic-Finnic language spoken in the Republic of Finland and in the Russian Federation. Neither in Finland nor in Russia has it the status of an official or at least a regional language. The number of speakers is rather low: The most reliable estimates are about 25,000 individuals in Russia and 5,000 in Finland. Due to demographic and social reasons, there has been recorded a rapid decline of speakers in the recent past. This leads to the classification of Karelian, both in Russia and Finland, as an endangered language. However, there are some positive signs that the downward trend could be stopped or even reverted. Based on the sociolinguistic data and applying the criteria established by Clyne and Muhr, there are good arguments to consider Karelian as a pluricentric language, although the fulfilment of the criteria is not very strong.

Linguistic diversity in audiovisual media for children in Belgium and Austria


Audiovisual media, Children, Linguistic diversity, Belgium, Austria | pp. 121136 |

As children are still in the early stages of language acquisition, their exposure to the language used in children’s media may affect their language learning, but also their language attitude. Children’s television has been criticized for being out of touch with reality when it comes to the portrayal of children. However, linguistically children’s media can also be out of touch with reality. This chapter discusses audiovisual media offered by different providers and accessed by young speakers of non-dominant national varieties in pluricentric language areas in the light of ongoing concerns about overexposure to the dominant variety. The main focus is on an analysis of media for Dutch-speaking children in Belgium, but German-language media for Austrian children is also discussed. It highlights differences between local and imported fiction and calls for further sociolinguistic research into the language used in different children’s media and how it affects language learning and language attitude.

Norm authorities for a weakly pluricentric language: The case of Italian in Switzerland

by ,

Swiss Italian, Norm authorities, Codification by usage, Non-dominant variety, Italian | pp. 137150 |

Italian has the status of an official language in quadri-lingual Switzerland. In spite of its minority position, it is used in administrative and political contexts on a federal level and official documents are systematically translated into it. Due to this fact, the Swiss variety of Italian can be considered as a partially autonomous standard of Italian, at least at a rudimentary stage (Ammon 1989). This paper focuses on a list of lexical and morphosyntactic items which have been identified as typical features of Swiss Italian and tracks their presence in documents with high codifying value (‘model authors’, Ammon 2017), that can influence language use by reinforcing the status of regional forms through usage in controlled contexts. The survey takes into account two major authorities (the press and daily news on TV) as well as non-professional literary texts. How do standardisation processes occur? Which trends of implicit standardisation can be observed?

Standard language variation in German at educational institutions in South Tyrol

by ,

South Tyrol German, Variation, Educational institutions | pp. 151160 |

The aim of this paper is to provide answers regarding norm tolerance towards the standard varieties of German among South Tyrolean university teacher-training students. As demonstrated in an empirical study conducted by Hofer (2017), who examined the correction behaviour of German teachers in South Tyrol, there seems to be uncertainty about the standard variety to be taught in schools. Similar results have also been found elsewhere (Davies, Wagner & Wyss, 2014; de Cillia, Fink & Ransmayr, 2017; de Cillia & Ransmayr, 2019; Fink, 2014; Scharloth, 2005). Focusing on the role of German in educational institutions, the data presented in this paper derives from a questionnaire survey conducted among teacher-training students attending university in South Tyrol, aiming to discover their correction behaviour and their attitudes towards their own and other varieties of German. The paper will be concluded with recommendations for dealing with the pluricentric concept in educational institutions in South Tyrol.

Pluricentricity and language practices – the visibility of Argentine Spanish in a pluricentric communication context


Argentine Spanish, Visibility, Pluricentric communication context | pp. 167178 |

The paper examines the visibility of Argentine Spanish in texts intended to be read by speakers of Spanish of different national origin, speaking different varieties with an orientation towards different norms. It is argued that the language academies, whose regulatory discourses are at the centre of the Spanish pluricentricity debate, are not the sole agents shaping language beliefs. The patterns of language use speakers are exposed to are also assumed to have an impact. Varieties used as “default” varieties – in contexts that do not suggest negative connotations or low social prestige – are good candidates for being accepted as de facto standards. Of course, this view presumes a wider definition of “standard language” than that inherent in “traditional” work on standardisation (e.g. Haugen 1972).

Factors of variation in World Englishes: the case of diminutives


World Englishes, Variation, Diminuitives | pp. 179194 |

The paper examines variation of diminutives in World Englishes, concentrating primarily on Southern Hemisphere varieties. Both synthetic and analytical diminutives are analysed. The study shows that the diminutive “richness” of the variety can be caused by different groups of factors. The number of diminutives can be determined by the internal factors – the more diminutives the variety has, the more it is prone to further creation of new items in the domain by analogy. External factors (language contact) account as well for the diversity of diminutives, leading to numerous borrowings of diminutive items and the ways of their formation. Environmental and social factors can be named among the main extralinguistic factors that predetermine the variation of diminutives in World Englishes.

Belarusian flavour in Russian: how to measure gradual differences between the varieties of pluricentric languages?


Belarus Russian, Lexical features, Corpus, sociolinguistic awareness | pp. 195208 |

The article focuses on lexical features of Belarusian Russian. It shows that the distinctness of Belarusian Russian results from the presence of elements unique for the variety (qualitative differences between the varieties), and the functional specificity of lexemes shared by different national varieties of Russian (quantitative differences). The paper highlights that differences between the national varieties of the Russian language (in particular, between the non-dominant Belarusian and the dominant Russian varieties) are of a gradual nature, which is proved by statistical methods applied to the corpus material, as they demonstrate a significant increase or decrease in the observed frequency of lexical items compared to their expected frequency.