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Pluricentric Languages and Non-Dominant Varieties Worldwide

Part I: Pluricentric Languages across Continents. Features and Usage


Edited By Rudolf Muhr

This is the first of two thematically arranged volumes with papers that were presented at the "World Conference of Pluricentric Languages and their non-dominant Varieties" (WCPCL). It comprises papers about 20 PCLs and 14 NDVs around the world. The second volume encompasses a further 17 papers about the pluricentricity of Portuguese and Spanish. The conference was held at the University of Graz (Austria) on July 8th-11th 2015. The papers fall into five categories: (1) Theoretical aspects of pluricentricity and the description of variation; (2) Different types of pluricentricity in differing environments; (3) African pluricentric languages and non-dominant varieties; (4) The pluricentricity of Arabic and Asian languages; (5) The pluricentricity of European languages inside Europe (Austrian German, Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian, Hungarian, Belgium Dutch, French, Greek, Swedish, Russian).

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The social and political uses of pluricentrism: A case study of identity-driven dominance in Urdu and Hindi



Urdu and Hindi have a common ancestor. However, they were standardized as two national languages in Pakistan and India since 1947. The concept of dominance is different in this case since it is driven by the imperatives of identity politics in South Asia. In the beginning of British rule in India Urdu was dominant in the domains of power i.e education, printing, radio and the courts of law. The institutions for standardizing the two languages were not grounded in two separate countries but functioned through institutions controlled by Hindus and Muslims i.e the two major religious identities which were separating into national identities in British India. Thus, in this case dominance of any one of these languages was correlated with the political and social power of the community in question.

1.   Introduction and definition of terms

The case of Hindi and Urdu as pluricentric languages is a unique case since the norm-setting centres of these languages are now located in two countries, India and Pakistan. First, let me clarify what I mean by Hindi and Urdu. This is necessitated by the fact that the term Hindi is used in many senses as noted by many scholars (Ghosh 2012: 436–437). The major meanings are (1) the formal variety mentioned as one of the official languages of India and used in formal, official domains. This variety has a large proportion of Sanskrit-derived diction and is also called sanskritized or High Hindi (2)...

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