lingua franca


lingua franca
/frang"keuh/, pl. lingua francas, linguae francae /ling"gwee fran"see/.
1. any language that is widely used as a means of communication among speakers of other languages.
2. (cap.) the Italian-Provençal jargon (with elements of Spanish, French, Greek, Arabic, and Turkish) formerly widely used in eastern Mediterranean ports.
[1670-80; < It: lit., Frankish tongue]

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Language used for communication between two or more groups that have different native languages.

It may be a standard language
for example, English and French are often used for international diplomacy, and Swahili is used by speakers of the many different local languages of eastern Africa. A lingua franca may also be a pidgin, like Melanesian Pidgin, widely used in the southern Pacific. The term lingua franca (Latin: "Frankish language") was first applied to a pidgin based on French and Italian developed in the Mediterranean. See also creole.

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Italian“Frankish language”

      language used as a means of communication between populations speaking vernaculars that are not mutually intelligible. The term was first used during the Middle Ages to describe a French- and Italian-based jargon, or pidgin, that was developed by Crusaders and traders in the eastern Mediterranean and characterized by the invariant forms of its nouns, verbs, and adjectives. These changes have been interpreted as simplifications of the Romance languages.

      Because they bring together very diverse groups of people, many empires and major trade entrepôts have had lingua francas. If pidgins have sometimes been defined, less informatively, as lingua francas, it is because they evolved from varieties that had served as trade languages. Aramaic (Aramaic language) played this role in Southwest Asia from as early as the 7th century BC to approximately AD 650. Classical Latin (Latin language) was the dominant lingua franca of European scholars until the 18th century, while a less prestigious variety of Latin served as that of the Hanseatic League (13th–15th centuries), especially in its bookkeeping.

      During the era of European exploration in the 15th–18th centuries, Portuguese (Portuguese language) served as a diplomatic and trade language in coastal Africa and in Asian coastal areas from the Indian Ocean to Japan. In Southeast Asia, meanwhile, Malay (Malay language) was already serving as an important lingua franca; it had been adopted by Arab and Chinese traders in the region well before the Europeans arrived. Later both the Dutch and the British used Malay for communication with the peoples resident in the region.

      Modern lingua francas may or may not be officially designated as such: the United Nations employs six official languages (Arabic (Arabic language), Chinese (Chinese languages), English (English language), French (French language), Russian (Russian language), and Spanish (Spanish language)); international air traffic control (traffic control) uses English as a common language; and some multilingual Asian and African countries have unofficial lingua francas that facilitate interethnic or interregional communication. Such languages may be erstwhile pidgins, as with Lingala (Lingala language) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Nigerian and Cameroon pidgins, or Hiri Motu and Tok Pisin in Papua New Guinea; they may also be non-pidginized varieties such as Swahili (Swahili language) in East Africa or Hausa (Hausa language) in West Africa.

Salikoko Sangol Mufwene
 

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Universalium. 2010.

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