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Revisiting the Cognitive Sociolinguistic Approach to Pluricentricity

Augusto Soares da Silva


This paper summarizes and assesses the contributions of Cognitive Sociolinguistics to the study of pluricentric languages. After introducing the notion of pluricentricity and briefly discussing the various issues raised by this special case of intralinguistic variation, we will highlight some theoretical, methodological and descriptive benefits of the sociocognitive approach to pluricentricity with regard to both the interplay between conceptual and social factors in pluricentric scenarios, and the representation of pluricentric variation in the language users’ minds. As an illustration, we then provide a brief overview of our own sociocognitive and lectometric research on the pluricentricity of Portuguese, identifying lexical, constructional and attitudinal variables as indicators of diachronic divergence between European and Brazilian Portuguese and suggesting new research paths for other national varieties. Finally, the last section of this paper addresses the main challenges to the sociocognitive research on pluricentric languages.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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