A pluricentric language, sometimes called a polycentric language, is a language with different standard varieties, originating from different states (sometimes from different regions, dialects or communities), without precluding the unity of the language.
Typical and well-studied examples are:
- English, including differing standards such as British English, American English, Australian English...
- Hindustani or Hindi-Urdu, including two, main differing standards which are Hindi (dominant in India or among Hindus) and Urdu (dominant in Pakistan or among Muslims).
- Galician-Portuguese, including differing standards such as European Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese and Galician.
- German, including differing standards such as German from Germany, Austrian German and Swiss German.
- Catalan, including differing regional standards such as Central Catalan, Valencian Catalan, Balearic Catalan and Rossellonès Catalan.
This concept was developped mainly by two prominent sociolinguists. The German Heinz Kloss coined the term pluricentric high language (plurizentrische Hochsprache), especially from 1978 on. Later, the Australian Michael Clyne promoted the term pluricentric language in 1992.
- Several authors prefer to say polycentric language for esthetic reasons, since poly- and centr- come both from Greek, whereas pluri- comes from Latin.
- KLOSS Heinz (1978) Die Entwicklung neuer germanischer Kultursprachen seit 1800, coll. Sprache der Gegenwart-Schriften des Instituts für Deutsche Sprache nº 37, Düsseldorf: Schwann [1st ed. 1952, Munich: Pohl]
- CLYNE Michael (1992) (dir.) Pluricentric languages: differing norms in different nations, coll. Contributions to the sociology of language nº 62, Berlin / New York: Mouton de Gruyter