Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Lingua franca

Lingua franca

Overview
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.

"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic history or structure of the language: though pidgin
Pidgin
A pidgin , or pidgin language, is a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a language in common. It is most commonly employed in situations such as trade, or where both groups speak languages different from the language of the...

s and creoles often function as lingua francas, many such languages are neither pidgins nor creoles.
Whereas a vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

language is used as a native language in a single speaker community, a lingua franca goes beyond the boundaries of its original community, and is used as a second language for communication between communities.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Lingua franca'
Start a new discussion about 'Lingua franca'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.

Characteristics


"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic history or structure of the language: though pidgin
Pidgin
A pidgin , or pidgin language, is a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a language in common. It is most commonly employed in situations such as trade, or where both groups speak languages different from the language of the...

s and creoles often function as lingua francas, many such languages are neither pidgins nor creoles.
Whereas a vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

language is used as a native language in a single speaker community, a lingua franca goes beyond the boundaries of its original community, and is used as a second language for communication between communities. For example, English is a vernacular in the United Kingdom, but is used as a vehicular language (that is, a lingua franca) in the Philippines.

International auxiliary language
International auxiliary language
An international auxiliary language or interlanguage is a language meant for communication between people from different nations who do not share a common native language...

s such as Esperanto
Esperanto
is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto , the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, in 1887...

 have historically had such a low level of adoption and use that they can only be described as potential rather than functioning lingua francas.

Etymology


The original Lingua Franca
Mediterranean Lingua Franca
The Mediterranean Lingua Franca or Sabir was a pidgin language used as a lingua franca in the Mediterranean Basin from the 11th to the 19th century.-History:...

 was a mixed language composed mostly (80%) of Italian with a broad vocabulary drawn from Turkish, French, Greek, Arabic, Portuguese and Spanish. It was in use throughout the eastern Mediterranean as the language of commerce and diplomacy in and around the Renaissance era. At that time, Italian speakers dominated seaborne commerce in the port cities of the Ottoman empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. Franca was the Italian word for Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

. Its usage in the term lingua franca originated from its meaning in Arabic and Greek, dating from before the Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

 and during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, whereby all Western Europeans were called "Franks" or Faranji in Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 and Phrankoi in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 during the times of the late Eastern Roman Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. The term lingua franca is first recorded in English in 1678.

Examples


Examples of lingua francas are numerous, and exist on every continent. The most obvious example today is English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, which is the current lingua franca of international business, science, technology, and aviation. There are many other lingua francas centralized on particular regions, such as Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

, Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, and Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

.

The popularity of languages changes over time, and there are many lingua francas that are of historical importance. For example, French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 was the language of European diplomacy
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

 from the 17th century until the mid-20th century. Until the early 20th century, Classical Chinese
Classical Chinese
Classical Chinese or Literary Chinese is a traditional style of written Chinese based on the grammar and vocabulary of ancient Chinese, making it different from any modern spoken form of Chinese...

 served as both the written lingua franca and the diplomatic language in Far East Asia including China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

, Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, the Ryūkyū Kingdom
Ryukyu Kingdom
The Ryūkyū Kingdom was an independent kingdom which ruled most of the Ryukyu Islands from the 15th century to the 19th century. The Kings of Ryūkyū unified Okinawa Island and extended the kingdom to the Amami Islands in modern-day Kagoshima Prefecture, and the Sakishima Islands near Taiwan...

, and Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

. Arabic became the "lingua franca" of the Arab/Islamic Empire
Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

 (from CE 733 – 1492), which at a certain point spread from the borders of China and Northern India
North India
North India, known natively as Uttar Bhārat or Shumālī Hindustān , is a loosely defined region in the northern part of India. The exact meaning of the term varies by usage...

 through Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, Persia, Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

, Middle East, North Africa all the way to Spain and Portugal in the west. In their modern forms, these languages are all still significant lingua francas today.

See also

  • Universal language
    Universal language
    Universal language may refer to a hypothetical or historical language spoken and understood by all or most of the world's population. In some circles, it is a language said to be understood by all living things, beings, and objects alike. It may be the ideal of an international auxiliary language...

  • World language
    World language
    A world language is a language spoken internationally which is learned by many people as a second language. A world language is not only characterized by the number of its speakers , but also by its geographical distribution, and its use in international organizations and in diplomatic relations...

  • Mutual intelligibility
    Mutual intelligibility
    In linguistics, mutual intelligibility is recognized as a relationship between languages or dialects in which speakers of different but related languages can readily understand each other without intentional study or extraordinary effort...

  • Language contact
    Language contact
    Language contact occurs when two or more languages or varieties interact. The study of language contact is called contact linguistics.Multilingualism has likely been common throughout much of human history, and today most people in the world are multilingual...

  • Mixed language
    Mixed language
    A mixed language is a language that arises through the fusion of two source languages, normally in situations of thorough bilingualism, so that it is not possible to classify the resulting language as belonging to either of the language families that were its source...

  • International English
    International English
    International English is the concept of the English language as a global means of communication in numerous dialects, and also the movement towards an international standard for the language...

  • Esperanto
    Esperanto
    is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto , the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, in 1887...

  • International auxiliary language
    International auxiliary language
    An international auxiliary language or interlanguage is a language meant for communication between people from different nations who do not share a common native language...

  • List of languages by number of native speakers

Further reading

  • Heine, Bernd (1970). Status and Use of African Lingua Francas. ISBN 3-8039-0033-6
  • Kahane, Henry Romanos (1958). The Lingua Franca in the Levant.
  • R. A. Hall, Jr. (1966). Pidgin and Creole Languages, Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-0173-9.
  • MELATTI, Julio Cezar (1983). Índios do Brasil. São Paulo:Hucitec Press, 48th edition

External links