English and Spanish (castellano) are the official languages in several countries. Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Costa Rica speak spanish (albeit with some differences, people from these countries can communicate with each other). United States, England, Ireland, South Africa speak English. Languages such as Korean and Finnish are not spoken in countries outside of their place of origin (at least, not by a sizable majority). Is there a terminology for languages such that aren't widely spoken outside their place of origin?

1 Answer 1


There is the pair of terms monocentric vs. pluricentric describing the situation whether only one cultural or economical centre is responsible for the definition of a standardised language or Hochsprache, or whether there are several centres (e.g. in the case of High German Germany (Berlin), Austria (Vienna) and Switzerland (Bern)).

However, this does not necessarily matches political boundaries, A language still may be monocentric and be spoken in several countries, or one country may host more than one centre of langauge standardisation.

Maybe one can borrow the term endemic for a language only occuring in one country from biology.

  • And would English then be nullicentric? Jul 23, 2016 at 19:27
  • It is not correct to say that Berlin speech was "responsible for the creation" of the German Hochsprache. Standard German is based on the bureaucratic language (Kanzleisprache) of the Habsburg court in Prague. Berlinerisch is a low German dialect.
    – fdb
    Jul 24, 2016 at 20:49
  • @fdb In fact, standard German is based on the Luther bible and Luther used the bureaucratic language of the Meissen chancellory as a model. But this is a historic fact, today the most influential political leaders and journalists of Germany gather in Berlin. Hamburg (hosting Der Spiegel and Die Zeit, two influential and wide-spread weeklies) also has a non-neglible contribution to German German. A Berlin dialect word has a better chance of spreading into High German than words from other dialects. Jul 25, 2016 at 10:31
  • "the creation of a standardised language" : your words, not mine. Berlin dialect did not play any substantive role in the "creation" of Hochdeutsch.
    – fdb
    Jul 25, 2016 at 12:38
  • @fdb Thanks for the remark, I am not a native speaker of English and I have now replaced creation by definition. I hope this reflects the dynamic nature of the standard language better. Jul 25, 2016 at 13:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.