Stages of pluricentricity

Pluricentric languages can be on different levels of development as the following list shows:


  1. Languages with varieties that have no territory of their own and no official recognition in the respective countries where they are present. This is the case with West-Armenian which is different from East-Armenian. The variety shows linguistic distance and there is strong linguistic awareness as it is as the symbol of social and ethnic identity.
  2. Pluricentric languages with varieties waiting for recognition: This is the case with Russian in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia where there are large language communities (up to 40% of the population) and where Russian is not even recognized as a minority language and does not have a formal status.
  3. Pluricentric languages with varieties that lack the appropriate formal status: Such a language is Hungarian. It only has the status of a minority language in Slovakia, Romania and Serbia even though there are large contingent areas with many Hungarian native speakers in the three countries.
  4. Languages where the status of pluricentricity is denied by the dominant variety. Languages like this have a high degree of centralisation and little or no awareness of the pluricentricity and/or showing strong reluctance to acknowledge the status are recognition of pluricentricity. Languages belonging to this category are: Albanian, French, Greek, Italian and Russian.
  5. Languages where the status of pluricentricity is acknowledged by the 'mother'-variety, where the linguistic characteristics are codified including the minor varieties to some degree in dictionaries and reference books. Languages belonging to this type are: English (some), Dutch, German (some), Hindi-Urdu (some), Spanish (some), Swedish (all), and Portuguese (recently).
  6. Languages where the pluricentricity is deliberately practised by model speakers of the respective NV. Emphasis is put on using the specific linguistic features of the national variety in pronunciation, lexicon and pragmatic features of communication etc. This is the case in many varieties of English, Dutch, German, Spanish, Swedish, and Portuguese.
  7. Languages where the NV is taught in schools: This is the case in all NVs, but variation existing between NVs of pluricentric languages is usually ignored, and not made aware in most cases.
  8. Languages where the linguistic characteristics of the NV are made aware of in schools: At present there are no pluricentric languages to my knowledge where linguistic characteristics of NVs are made aware of in school.

(Excerpt from Muhr, 2012)