Lingua franca

1839 – Trilingual Chinese–Malay–English text – Malay was the lingua franca across the Strait of Malacca, including the coasts of the Malay Peninsula (now in Malaysia) and the eastern coast of Sumatra (now in Indonesia), and has been established as a native language of part of western coastal Sarawak and West Kalimantan in Borneo.

A lingua franca (ə/ (About this soundlisten); lit. Frankish tongue; for plurals see § Usage notes),[1] 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.[2]

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.[3][4] 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.


Lingua franca refers to any language used for communication between people who do not share a native language.[5] It can refer to mixed languages such as pidgins and creoles 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.[6] Lingua franca is a functional term, independent of any linguistic history or language structure.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

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, longside Filipino. Arabic, French, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindustani, and Russian serve a similar purpose as industrial/educational lingua francas, across regional and national boundaries.

International auxiliary languages created with the purpose of being lingua francas such as Esperanto and Lingua Franca Nova have not had a great degree of adoption globally so they cannot be described as global lingua francas.[11]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Lingua franca
Alemannisch: Lingua franca
asturianu: Llingua franca
azərbaycanca: Linqva franka
Basa Banyumasan: Lingua franca
беларуская: Лінгва франка
Bikol Central: Lingua franca
български: Лингва франка
brezhoneg: Yezh vehikular
čeština: Lingua franca
Cymraeg: Lingua franca
Ελληνικά: Lingua franca
español: Lengua franca
Esperanto: Lingvafrankao
euskara: Lingua franca
Gaeilge: Francbhéarla
hrvatski: Lingua franca
Ilokano: Lingua franca
Bahasa Indonesia: Basantara
interlingua: Lingua franca
italiano: Lingua franca
Kreyòl ayisyen: Lingua franca
latviešu: Lingua franca
lietuvių: Lingua franca
Limburgs: Lingua franca
Lingua Franca Nova: Linguas franca
lumbaart: Lengua franca
македонски: Лингва франка
Bahasa Melayu: Lingua franca
Nederlands: Lingua franca
norsk nynorsk: Lingua franca
occitan: Lingua franca
Plattdüütsch: Lingua franca
português: Língua franca
Simple English: Lingua franca
slovenščina: Lingua franca
српски / srpski: Лингва франка
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Lingua franca
svenska: Lingua franca
татарча/tatarça: Лингва-франка
Türkçe: Lingua franca
українська: Лінгва франка
Tiếng Việt: Lingua franca
中文: 通用语