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pluricentric language

A pluricentric language is one that has more than one official standard, generally because it is spoken in more than one territory and each has its own standard. Some examples include:

  • Spanish: Many Spanish-speaking countries define their own standardised varieties.
  • English: There are generally considered to be separate standardised forms for British, American, Australian, etc. Englishes, although English tends not to have formal, government-sanctioned language academies the way many other languages do, so these standards are more based on a consensus of academics, publishers, etc. within a given country.
  • Portuguese: There are separate Portuguese and Brazilian standards.
  • Catalan: There are separate Catalan and Valencian standards.
  • German: There are separate German, Austrian and Swiss standards.
  • Serbo-Croatian: There are Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin standards.
  • Hindi and Urdu: While Hindi has many dialects, both Hindi and Urdu were based on the same underlying dialect (Dehlavi).
  • Malay and Indonesian: Indonesian was expressly created as a new standard of the Malay language, to be used as an official language in super-linguistically diverse Indonesia.

Note that the term “pluricentric language” only refers to official standards. Many of the languages above have large dialectal diversity too (German and Hindi have so much that many of their “dialects” are not mutually intelligible with the standard language! but see ausbau sociolinguistics for more on why some still call them German or Hindi dialects), but the standardised forms of the language are much more similar.