A lingua franca / / (plural usually lingua francas, sometimes linguae francae), also known as a bridge language, trade language or vehicular language, is a language systematically (as opposed to occasionally, or casually) used to make communication possible between persons not sharing a native language, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both native languages.
Lingua francas have developed around the world throughout human history, sometimes for commercial reasons (so-called "trade languages") but also for diplomatic and administrative convenience, and as a means of exchanging information between scientists and other scholars of different nationalities. The term originates with one such language, Mediterranean Lingua Franca.
Lingua franca is a term defined functionally, independent of the linguistic history or structure of the language: though pidgins and creoles often function as lingua francas, many such languages are neither pidgins nor creoles.
Whereas a vernacular language is used as a native language in a community, a lingua franca is used beyond the boundaries of its original community, and is used as a second language for communication between groups. For example, English is a vernacular in the United Kingdom, but is used as a vehicular language (i.e., a lingua franca) in the Philippine Islands and India.
The term lingua franca originated as the name of a particular language that was used around the eastern Mediterranean Sea as the main language of commerce and diplomacy - from late medieval times and especially during the Renaissance era, up to the 18th century. At that time, Italian speakers dominated seaborne commerce in the port cities of the Ottoman Empire and a simplified version of Italian, including many loan words from Greek, Old French, Portuguese, Occitan, Spanish, as well as Arabic and Turkish came to be widely used as the "lingua franca" (in the generic sense used here) of the region.
In Lingua Franca itself, lingua means a language (as in Italian) - Franca is related to Phrankoi in Greek and Faranji in Arabic, as well as the equivalent Italian: in all three cases the literal sense is "Frankish", but this name was actually applied to all Western Europeans during the late Byzantine Period.
The Douglas Harper Etymology Dictionary states that the term Lingua Franca (as the name of the particular language) was first recorded in English during the 1670s, although an even earlier example of the use of Lingua Franca in English is attested from 1632, where it is also referred to as "Bastard Spanish".
As recently as the late 20th century, the use of the generic term was restricted by some to mean only hybrid languages that are used as vehicular languages (owing to its original meaning), but nowadays it refers to any vehicular language.
The use of lingua francas may be almost as old as language itself. Certainly they have existed since antiquity. Latin and Greek were the lingua francas of the Roman Empire; Akkadian, and then Aramaic, remained the common languages of a large part of Western Asia through several earlier empires. Examples of lingua francas remain numerous, and exist on every continent. The most obvious example as of the early 21st century is English. There are many other lingua francas centralized on particular regions, such as French, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, and Swahili.
In certain countries the lingua franca is also used as the national language; e.g., Urdu is the lingua franca of Pakistan, as well as the national language. Indonesian has the same function in Indonesia; even though Javanese has more native speakers, Indonesian is the sole official language and spoken (often as a second language) throughout the country.
- International auxiliary language
- Language contact
- Mixed language
- Mutual intelligibility
- Common Speech
- Universal language
- Working language
- World language
- Koiné language
- List of languages by number of native speakers
- Global language system
- Viacheslav A. Chirikba, "The problem of the Caucasian Sprachbund" in Pieter Muysken, ed., From Linguistic Areas to Areal Linguistics, 2008, p. 31. ISBN 90-272-3100-1
- Intro Sociolinguistics - Pidgin and Creole Languages: Origins and Relationships - Notes for LG102, - University of Essex, Prof. Peter L. Patrick - Week 11, Autumn term.
- http://www.komvos.edu.gr/dictonlineplsql/simple_search.display_full_lemma?the_lemma_id=16800&target_dict=1, Lexico Triantaphyllide online dictionary , Greek Language Center (Kentro Hellenikes Glossas), lemma Franc ( Φράγκος Phrankos) , Lexico tes Neas Hellenikes Glossas, G.Babiniotes, Kentro Lexikologias(Legicology Center) LTD Publications , ISBN 960-86190-1-7, lemma Franc and (prefix) franco- (Φράγκος Phrankos and φράγκο- phranko-).
- Ernest Weekley Etymology Dictionary (1921)
- Eric Partridge Etymology Dictionary (1966)
- Douglas Harper Etymology Dictionary (2001)
- Morgan, J. (1632). A Compleat History of the Present Seat of War in Africa, Between the Spaniards and Algerines. p. 98. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
- Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, Simon and Schuster, 1980
- Ostler, 2005 pp. 38-40
- Hall, R.A. Jr. (1966). Pidgin and Creole Languages, Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-0173-9.
- 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.
- Melatti, Julio Cezar (1983). Índios do Brasil. São Paulo: Hucitec Press, 48th edition
- Ostler, Nicholas (2005). Empires of the Word. London: Harper ISBN 978-0-00-711871-7
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- English - the universal language on the Internet?
- Lingua franca del Mediterraneo o Sabir of professor Francesco Bruni (in Italian).
- Sample texts from Juan del Encina, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Carlo Goldoni's L'Impresario da Smyrna, Diego de Haedo and other sources.
- An introduction to the original Mediterranean Lingua Franca.