A lingua franca also referred to as a common language, bridge language, trade language, vehicular language, link language, or auxiliary language, is a language or dialect used systematically to make communication easy between groups of people who don’t share a native language or dialect, especially when it is a third language distinct from both speakers’ native languages.
Lingua francas have developed throughout human history across the globe, sometimes for commercial reasons but also for religious, diplomatic, administrative, and cultural convenience, to exchanging information between scholars and scientists of different nationalities. The term was taken from the medieval Mediterranean Lingua Franca which was an Italian-based language that was used commonly by traders within the Mediterranean Basin from the 11th – 19th centuries. A global lingua franca is a world language that is spoken internationally and by a huge volume of people. Today, English can be considered a de facto lingua franca in almost every aspect including academics, the internet, international communications, air traffic control, etc.
Any language that is regularly used for communication between people who don’t share a native language can be considered a lingua franca. It is a functional term that is independent of any linguistic history or structure.
They are often pre-existing languages having native speakers, but they can also be pidgin or creole languages that were developed for that particular region or context. Pre-existing lingua francas like French are being used to facilitate communication in large-scale trade or political matters. Pre-existing lingua francas are widespread, highly developed languages with numerous native speakers.
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