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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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Hausa – A pluricentric language of West Africa?



In this paper the question will be raised whether Hausa, a major world language with probably more first-language speakers than any other sub-Saharan African language, fulfils enough criteria to constitute a pluricentric language. After an outline of the spread of Hausa in (West) Africa some criteria for pluricentricity which have been proposed in Clyne (1992), and Muhr (2012) will be examined with respect to Hausa, e.g. occurrence, linguistic distance of varieties, status, standardization. It will be concluded that, although Hausa does not fulfil all criteria for pluricentricity perfectly, it nevertheless shows similarities with other pluricentric languages, and that especially in terms of codification a dominant variety, i.e. standard (Kano) Hausa can be seen alongside other non-dominant varieties.

1.   Introduction

The sociolinguistic theory of pluricentricity of languages came up in the late sixties and was particularly enhanced in Clyne (1992). The theory was especially applied to large “world languages” such as Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, etc., but in African linguistics the notion of pluricentricity hasn’t attracted much attention yet1. Given the fact that African languages roughly constitute a third of the world’s languages (Lewis, Simons & Fennig 2015), it seems appropriate to assume that some of them would meet enough criteria to constitute a pluricentric language. Especially larger languages of wider communication which also function as cross-border languages are taken into consideration. Therefore, after an outline of the spread of Hausa in (West) Africa the typology of linguistic ← 137 | 138 → dominance...

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