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Debunking “pluri-areality”: On the pluricentric perspective of national varieties

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 December 2019

Stefan Dollinger*
Department of English Language and Literatures, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Author for correspondence: Stefan Dollinger, Email:


Pluricentric approaches to international varieties have been a mainstay in English dialectology since the 1980s, often implied rather than expressed. What is standard lore in many philologies is today questioned in one philology, however. This paper assesses the pros and cons of the so-called “pluri-areal” perspective, which has in the past few years become prominent in German dialectology. Intended to replace the pluricentric model, “pluri-arealist” perspectives affect the modelling of German standard varieties in Austria and Switzerland, among others. Attempting to falsify claims on both sides, this paper argues from an English-German comparative perspective that the idiosyncratic treatment of national varieties in one context is a problem that threatens the unity of the field regarding how the standard is seen in relation to other varieties. It is shown that the base of the “pluri-areal” paradigm is an a-theoretical perspective of geographical variation that adheres implicitly to a One Standard German Axiom. This meta-theoretical paper suggests three principles to prevent such terminologically-fuelled confusion henceforth.

© Cambridge University Press 2019 

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