Linguistic Terms

Lingua franca and its characteristics

Lingua franca

lingua franca is the term used to describe a language systematically used to allow effective communication between people with different native languages. Lingua Franca has been used throughout the history of mankind and was used for commercial, religious and diplomatic purposes.


The origin of the term “Lingua Franca” dates back to the Middle Ages when it was used to describe a language or jargon used throughout the eastern Mediterranean by merchants and crusaders. This first frank language presented the use of invariant forms of nouns, adjectives and verbs. The term was the combination of the term “Lingua” and “Franca”, where “lingua” is translated directly into “language”, while ” franco“It directly means” Franks, “a term used to describe the Europeans of Western Europe during the era of the Byzantine Empire. The lingua franca was widely used in the region during the Renaissance period and until the beginning of the 20th century. Since speakers Italian were the main actors in the maritime trade of the region in the Ottoman Empire, the Italian language was the main composition of the lingua franca with a language that included many words and phrases in Italian Other languages ​​whose words make up the lingua franca include Old French, Occitan, Arabic, Greek, Turkish and Portuguese The first record in English that demonstrated the existence of the term lingua franca was in 18, where it was known as “Bastard Spanish”.

Characteristics of A lingua franca

While lingua franca exists in many forms and variants throughout the world, they all share several common characteristics. A distinctive feature of a lingua franca is that the lingua franca is defined neither by its linguistic history nor by its linguistic structure, but by its functionality. A lingua Franca is not confined within the geographical, cultural or linguistic boundaries of the communities that identify themselves as native speakers of the language, unlike a vernacular language that is limited within the linguistic boundaries of the community that uses it as a language maternal The entire lingua franca is used as a linguistic bridge that unites different cultures, civilizations and religions that otherwise would never have been linked.

Examples of lingua franca

Lingua Franca has been used to link cultures throughout human history since ancient times. During the time of the Roman Empire, the lingua franca used throughout the empire was Koine Greek and Latin. The use of Aramaic as a lingua franca in western Asia existed for several centuries and was used in several kingdoms and empires. In East Africa, coastal trade brought together different cultures from the mainland and Asia. Merchants used Swahili as a frank language that allowed them to understand each other. The best modern example of a lingua franca is English, which is used throughout the world and could be said to be the primary lingua franca in the modern world. Other lingua francas that are widely used include Spanish, Hindi, Portuguese, German, Arabic, Russian and French.

Creation of a lingua franca

There are rare cases in which a lingua franca is created successfully from nothing, and the few that are created are defined as “built international auxiliary languages”. The notable example of a “built” lingua franca is Esperanto that was established in the nineteenth century as a commercial language.

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