Lingua franca

April 24, 2015 12:22 pm

Lingua franca IATE

The term “lingua franca” also known as “trade language”, “bridge language” or “vehicular language” is the language used systematically as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different.

Its origin dates back to the 17th century. This early lingua franca or “Mediterranean Lingua Franca” was used around the Eastern Mediterranean as the language of commerce and diplomacy during the Renaissance era. It was a mixture of Italian (80%) with words adopted from Old French, Spanish, Turkish, Greek, Portuguese and Arabic. Also the term is Italian and means “Frankish language”, since “Frank” was used for naming all the Western Europeans. Nowadays, this “lingua franca” mainly refers to English; it is a common lingua franca across the world. English is used systematically as a common language around the globe not only for commercial purposes, but also for diplomatic, administrative and academic purposes. According to some statistics, almost 80% of English speakers in the world are non-native speakers.

Yestarday, April 23, was UN English Language Day, an event established by the UNESCO as the day of the anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.

The use of English as lingua franca (ELF) is “defined functionally by its use in intercultural communication rather than formally by its reference to native-speaker norms”, that is, a functional phenomenon, whereas the English as a foreign language always tries to accomplish native speaker norms and even cultural aspects.


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Written by Isabel Beldad
Journalist and Social Media Expert


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