'Frankish tongue'; for plurals see § Usage notes
also known as a bridge language
, common language
, trade language
, auxiliary language
, vehicular language
, or link language
, is a language or dialect
systematically used to make communication possible between groups of people who do not share a native language
or dialect, particularly when it is a third language that is distinct from both of the speakers' native languages.
Lingua francas have developed around the world throughout human history, sometimes for commercial reasons (so-called "trade languages" facilitated trade), but also for cultural, religious, diplomatic and administrative convenience, and as a means of exchanging information between scientists and other scholars of different nationalities.
The term is taken from the medieval Mediterranean Lingua Franca
, a Romance
-based pidgin language
used (especially by traders and seamen) as a lingua franca in the Mediterranean Basin
from the 11th to the 19th century. A world language
– a language spoken internationally and by many people – is a language that may function as a global lingua franca.
A lingua franca is any language used for communication between people who do not share a native language.
It can refer to mixed languages
such as pidgins
used for communication between language groups. It can also refer to languages which are native to one nation (often a colonial power) but used as a second language
for communication between diverse language communities in a colony or former colony.
Lingua franca is a functional term, independent of any linguistic history or language structure.
Lingua francas are often pre-existing languages with native speakers, but they can also be pidgin or creole languages developed for that specific region or context. Pidgin languages are rapidly developed and simplified combinations of two or more established languages, while creoles are generally viewed as pidgins that have evolved into fully complex languages in the course of adaptation by subsequent generations.
Pre-existing lingua francas such as French are used to facilitate intercommunication in large-scale trade or political matters, while pidgins and creoles often arise out of colonial situations and a specific need for communication between colonists and indigenous peoples.
Pre-existing lingua francas are generally widespread, highly developed languages with many native speakers. Conversely, pidgin languages are very simplified means of communication, containing loose structuring, few grammatical rules, and possessing few or no native speakers. Creole languages are more developed than their ancestral pidgins, utilizing more complex structure, grammar, and vocabulary, as well as having substantial communities of native speakers.
Whereas a vernacular
language is the native language of a specific geographical community, a lingua franca is used beyond the boundaries of its original community, for trade, religious, political, or academic reasons. For example, English is a vernacular in the United Kingdom but is used as a lingua franca
in the Philippines
, alongside Filipino
, Mandarin Chinese
, and Russian
serve a similar purpose as industrial/educational lingua francas, across regional and national boundaries.
In Lingua Franca (the specific language), lingua
means a language, as in Italian, and 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
", leading to the direct translation: "language of the Franks". During the late Byzantine Empire
, "Franks" was a term that applied to all Western Europeans
Through changes of the term in literature, Lingua Franca has come to be interpreted as a general term for pidgins, creoles, and some or all forms of vehicular languages. This transition in meaning has been attributed to the idea that pidgin languages only became widely known from the 16th century on due to European colonization of continents such as The Americas, Africa, and Asia. During this time, the need for a term to address these pidgin languages arose, hence the shift in the meaning of Lingua Franca from a single proper noun to a common noun encompassing a large class of pidgin languages.
As recently as the late 20th century, some restricted the use of the generic term to mean only mixed languages
that are used as vehicular languages, its original meaning.
Douglas Harper's Online 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".
The term is well established in its naturalization to English, which is why major dictionaries do not italicize it as a "foreign" term.
Its plurals in English are lingua francas and linguae francae,
with the former being first-listed
in major dictionaries.
The Hindustani language
) is the lingua franca of Pakistan
and Northern India
.[self-published source?][page needed]
Many Indian states have adopted the Three-language formula
in which students in Hindi-speaking states are taught: "(a) Hindi (with Sanskrit as part of the composite course); (b) Urdu or any other modern Indian language and (c) English or any other modern European language." The order in non-Hindi speaking states is: "(a) the regional language; (b) Hindi; (c) Urdu or any other modern Indian language excluding (a) and (b); and (d) English or any other modern European language." Hindi
has also emerged as a lingua franca for the locals of Arunachal Pradesh
, a linguistically diverse state in Northeast India.
It is estimated that 90 percent of the state's population knows Hindi.
– which originated from a Malay language
variant spoken in Riau
– is the official language and a lingua franca in Indonesia
and widely understood across the Malay world including Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, although Javanese
has more native speakers. Still, Indonesian is the sole official language and is spoken throughout the country even though it is the first language of a very small minority of Indonesians. 
Regions where English is a majority native language
Regions where English is official but not a majority native language
developed as a lingua franca between several Bantu
-speaking tribal groups on the east coast of Africa with heavy influence from Arabic.
The earliest examples of writing in Swahili are from 1711.
In the early 19th century the use of Swahili as a lingua franca moved inland with the Arabic ivory and slave traders. It was eventually adopted by Europeans as well during periods of colonization in the area. German colonizers used it as the language of administration in German East Africa
, later becoming Tanganyika
, which influenced the choice to use it as a national language in what is now independent Tanzania
When the United Kingdom became a colonial power, English served as the lingua franca of the colonies of the British Empire
. In the post-colonial period, some of the newly created nations which had multiple indigenous languages
opted to continue using English as one of their official languages. A couple of examples of these nations are Ghana and South Africa. 
Although not spoken as a first language by most African French speakers, French
is still a lingua franca in most Western and Central African countries and an official language of many, a remnant of French
and Belgian colonialism
. These African countries and others are members of the Francophonie
can also be seen as a lingua franca because it is the language of communication between speakers of different languages in Northern Nigeria
and other West African
Arabic was used as a lingua franca across the Islamic Empire whose size necessitated the need for a common language. 
English is used as a lingua franca in Singapore, a country that has four official languages. 
, the medical community is primarily made up of workers from countries without English as a native language. In medical practices and hospitals, nurses typically communicate with other professionals in English as a lingua franca.
This occurrence has led to interest in researching the consequences and affordances of the medical community communicating in a lingua franca.
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Last edited on 27 April 2021, at 13:25
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