European Pluricentric Languages in Contact and Conflict

by Rudolf Muhr (Volume editor) Josep Angel Mas Castells (Volume editor) Jack Rueter (Volume editor)
©2020 Edited Collection 280 Pages


This volume comprises 17 papers that are dealing with European pluricentric languages where there are some issues of contact and conflict. An overview about all European languages and of those that are pluricentric is also provided. Central topics are human rights for non-dominant varieties, and conflicts in pluricentric languages on the Iberian peninsula and on the British Isles. Several papers also deal with languages from a different point of view, with languages where the status of pluricentricity is disputed (Albanian, Post-Yougoslav-languages). For the first time the pluricentricity of Finno-Ugric languages is dealt with alongside papers about the pluricentricity of Russian. This is the seventh volume that is published by the "International Working Group on non-dominant varieties of pluricentric languages".

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • Preface
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Table of contents
  • List of contributors
  • European pluricentric languages in contact and conflict – An overview
  • Dutch national varieties in contact and in conflict
  • Identity and use of a pluricentric language in conflict: Catalan in Spain
  • Conflict between Valencian and Catalan: Is Valencian a language of its own or a variety of Catalan?
  • Pluricentrism and unity: visions and management of dialectal variation in the process of codification and standardisation of Occitan
  • Pluricentricity and Irish English
  • The language situation in Scotland and the question of pluricentricity in British English
  • A case study in the termination of the pluricentricity of a language: the Serbo-Croatian linguonym1
  • Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian: Notes on contact and conflict
  • Linguistic errors or varieties? Albanian and other languages in contact
  • Skolt Sami, the makings of a pluricentric language, where does it stand?
  • Evidential forms as politeness strategies in Udmurt from a pluricentric point of view
  • Belarusian Russian in a language continuum: contacts and conflicts1
  • The pluricentricity of Russian in development: Russian in Estonia as an example
  • Austrian German under pressure: age and media consumption as major influencing factors for linguistic change and shifting language attitudes regarding Austrian Standard German
  • Austrian German in Austrian academic discourse
  • List of figures
  • List of tables

List of contributors

Aitor Carrera

(University of Lleida, Catalonia)


Reglindis De Ridder

(Stockholm University, Sweden)


Gerhard Edelmann

(Universität Wien, Austria)


Olga Goritskaya

(Minsk State Linguistic University, Belarus)


Mika Hämäläinen

(University of Helsinki, Finland)


Raymond Hickey

University of Duisburg and Essen


Mate Kapović

(University of Zagreb, Croatia)


Éva Katona

(ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary)


Rebeka Kubitsch

(University of Szeged, Hungary)


Josep-Àngel Mas Castells

(Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain)


Rudolf Muhr

(Universität Graz, Austria)


Albana Muco

(Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy)


Zoltán Németh

(University of Szeged, Hungary)


Jutta Ransmayr

(Universität Wien, Austria)


Jack Rueter

(University of Helsinki, Finland)


Tomislav Stojanov

(University of Zagreb, Croatia)


Elena Shirlina

(Belgorod National Research University, Russia)


Andreas Weilinghoff

(University of Münster, Germany)


Rudolf Muhr

European pluricentric languages in contact and conflict – An overview

Abstract: This paper intends to give an overview about (a) which languages there are in Europe, (b) which of them are to be considered pluricentric, and (c) where there are conflicts either about the status of pluricentricity and/or about the acknowledgment of their national varieties and their social visibility. The paper will also reflect on the possible reasons for conflicts about pluricentricity. In order to do this, it was necessary to define the borders of “Europe” and make a list of all European languages that exist within the borders of this continent. In the course of the elaboration of this task, it became apparent that neither a full list of all European languages existed, nor was there a consensus among linguists about the term “language”. Thus, one of the additional results of this work is that a definition of the term “language” and other terms derived from it are offered in this paper. The overview over pluricentric languages (PCLs) in contact and conflict found two types of special forms of pluricentricity and five types of conflicts in a total of 29 European languages and 19 national varieties. This overview yielded a large number of ongoing and past conflicts that mostly occur when nations and languages split or language communities have to fight for their linguistic and social rights to become or stay visible.1

Objectives of this paper

The task of this paper is to describe European pluricentric languages where there is some sort of conflict or where there are contact induced issues either by other varieties of the “same” language or other languages. In a first step, I will discuss the terms “Europe” and “European language” and then consider how many languages there are in the area that is called “Europe” and what status they have. In a further step, the languages that can be categorized as “pluricentric” will be selected. In a last step, an overview of the PCLs and national varieties (NV) is offered where there are conflicts and problems arising from contact between national varieties and other languages.

←11 | 12→

Part I: Defining the boundaries and countries of Europe

1 What is the meaning of the term “Europe”?

The continent called “Europe” is a geographical area of around 10 million square km. In the west, it is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, in the north by the Arctic Ocean and in the south (partly) by the Mediterranean Sea. The Ural Mountains are conventionally considered as the eastern boundary. Europe includes parts of the Russian Federation even though Uralic and Altaic languages are used on both sides of the mountains2. Moreover, it makes Western Kazakhstan (partly) a European country, which is contested by some authors and even the European Union3, while Cornell/Engvall (2017) clearly consider it to be a European country4 for different reasons than seem plausible. The country is therefore included in the list of European states. Some authors also delineate Europe at the Black Sea, the Kuma-Manych Depression in Russia5, and at the Caspian Sea6. This approach would exclude Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, which are all members of the Council of Europe. The latter is not a geographical but a political argument and settles the discussion about the eastern border of the European continent for the time being. In addition, it excludes any attempt to define Europe via so-called cultural-anthropological arguments, which would restrict Europe to the countries influenced by the Roman-Greek and Christian heritage7.

There are also some issues concerning the countries at the western border of Europe. Although Greenland geographically is part of the American continent, all countries east of North America are usually considered European. Greenland belongs as an autonomous region constitutionally to Denmark and can therefore be included in the list of European territories too. The same is the case with Iceland due to its language and longstanding contacts with (Northern) Europe.

1.  The result is the following list of 51 sovereign European countries8:

←12 | 13→

Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo9, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Vatican City/Holy See.

2. In addition there are 8 dependant territories of European states with a special political (self-governing) status:

1. Akrotiri and Dhekelia: British overseas territories on the island of Cyprus;

2. Gibraltar: British overseas territory on the Iberian Peninsula;

3. Island of Guernsey, Island of Jersey, Island of Man: British Crown territories;

4. Faroe Islands and Greenland: Constituent countries of the Kingdom of Denmark;

5. Åland: Self-governing area of Finland;

6. Svalbard/Spitzbergen: Unincorporated area of Norway.

7/8. Mellila and Ceuta: Spanish autonomous cities located on the north coast of Africa and Spanish speaking territories for centuries.

Note: (1) The French overseas regions and departments Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Réunion, Mayotte and the French overseas collectivities French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna, which have their own statutory laws are not included here in the list of dependant territories as they are all situated outside the European continent. To include them would mean to include many very different languages in the list of European languages, which would overstretch the term “European language”10.

Note (2): The same approach is applied to the constituent parts of the Kingdom of Netherlands, which are all situated in the Caribbean Sea: Bonaire, Saint Eustatius, Saba, Aruba, Curaçao, Saint Maarten. There is just one typologically non-European-language – Papiamento – (a Creole language), which is spoken in these territories (but not included either in the list of European languages.)

←13 | 14→

3.Finally, there are 10 disputed territories which are in some cases de facto independent states or in other cases incorporated areas in other polities with little or no international recognition11:

1. Abkhazia and South Ossetia: Breakaway territories of Georgia which declared independence;

2. Autonomous Republic of Crimea: Occupied area of Ukraine by Russia;

3. Republic of Artsah/Nagorno-Karabakh Republic: Breakaway territory of Azerbaijan, formally independent republic only supported by Armenia;

4. Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic: Breakaway territories of Ukraine, which are presently at war with Ukraine;

5. Northern Cyprus: Breakaway territory of the Republic of Cyprus, occupied by Turkey;

6. Transistria: Breakaway territory of the Republic of Moldova.

In all, there are 82 European political entities that form the basis of the next step: listing the languages used on European territory and then sorting out (a) those which can be considered pluricentric and (b) those that have some issues in respect to contact and conflict.

Part II: Defining the term “language”, setting up a complete list of European languages and a list of European pluricentric languages

1 Coping with problems in defining and listing the European languages

1.1 Existing lists denoting “European languages”


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (December)
Europäische plurizentrische Sprachen Sprachkonflikt Sprachkontakt Soziolinguistik Variationslinguistik
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2020. 280 pp., 11 fig. b/w, 2 tables.

Biographical notes

Rudolf Muhr (Volume editor) Josep Angel Mas Castells (Volume editor) Jack Rueter (Volume editor)

Rudolf Muhr is head of the Austrian German Research Centre in Graz and the coordinator of the WGNDV. Josep Àngel Mas Castells is professor at the Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain. Jack Rueter is senior researcher at the department of digital humanities of the University of Helsinki, Finland.


Title: European Pluricentric Languages in Contact and Conflict
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
282 pages