A lingua franca (or working language, bridge language, vehicular language, unifying language) is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues. Lingua francas have arisen around the globe throughout human history, sometimes for commercial reasons (so-called "trade languages") but also for diplomatic and administrative convenience, and as a means of exchanging information between scientists and other scholars of different nationalities.
"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic history or structure of the language: though pidgins and creoles often function as lingua francas, many such languages are neither pidgins nor creoles.
Whereas a vernacular language is used as a native language in a single speaker community, a lingua franca goes beyond the boundaries of its original community, and is used as a second language for communication between groups. For example, English is a vernacular in the United Kingdom, but is used as a vehicular language (i.e., a lingua franca) in the Philippines.
The use of the term "lingua franca" described in this article arose from the name of a particular example of this type of language. Lingua Franca was a mixed language composed mostly (80%) of Italian with a broad vocabulary drawn from Old French, Greek, Arabic, Portuguese and Spanish. It was in use throughout the eastern Mediterranean as the language of commerce and diplomacy in and around the Renaissance era. At that time, Italian speakers dominated seaborne commerce in the port cities of the Ottoman empire. Franca was the Italian word for Frankish. Its usage in the term lingua franca originated from its meaning in Arabic and Greek, dating from before the Crusades and during the Middle Ages, whereby all Western Europeans were called "Franks" or Faranji in Arabic and Phrankoi in Greek during the late Byzantine Period. The term lingua franca is first recorded in English in 1678.
The use of lingua francas may be almost as old as language itself. Certainly they have existed since antiquity. Latin and Greek were the lingua francas of the Roman empire; Akkadian, and then Aramaic, remained the common languages of a large part of Western Asia through several earlier empires. Examples of lingua francas remain numerous, and exist on every continent. The most obvious example today is English. There are many other lingua francas centralized on particular regions, such as Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
In certain countries the lingua franca is also used as the national language; e.g., Urdu is the lingua franca of Pakistan as well as the national language.
See also 
- International auxiliary language
- Language contact
- Mixed language
- Mutual intelligibility
- Common Speech
- Universal language
- World language
- Viacheslav A. Chirikba, "The problem of the Caucasian Sprachbund" in Pieter Muysken, ed., From Linguistic Areas to Areal Linguistics, 2008, p. 31. ISBN 90-272-3100-1
- Intro Sociolinguistics - Pidgin and Creole Languages: Origins and Relationships - Notes for LG102, - University of Essex, Prof. Peter L. Patrick - Week 11, Autumn term.
- http://www.komvos.edu.gr/dictonlineplsql/simple_search.display_full_lemma?the_lemma_id=16800&target_dict=1, Lexico Triantaphyllide online dictionary , Greek Language Center (Kentro Hellenikes Glossas), lemma Franc ( Φράγκος Phrankos) , Lexico tes Neas Hellenikes Glossas, G.Babiniotes, Kentro Lexikologias(Legicology Center) LTD Publications , ISBN 960-86190-1-7, lemma Franc and (prefix) franco- (Φράγκος Phrankos and φράγκο- phranko-).
- Lingua franca is discussed in these etymology dictionaries: Ernest Weekley Etymology Dictionary (1921), Eric Partridge Etymology Dictionary (1966), Douglas Harper Etymology Dictionary (2001)
- Ostler, 2005 pp. 38-40
Further reading 
- Hall, R.A. Jr. (1966). Pidgin and Creole Languages, Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-0173-9.
- Heine, Bernd (1970). Status and Use of African Lingua Francas. ISBN 3-8039-0033-6
- Kahane, Henry Romanos (1958). The Lingua Franca in the Levant.
- Melatti, Julio Cezar (1983). Índios do Brasil. São Paulo: Hucitec Press, 48th edition
- Ostler, Nicholas (2005). Empires of the Word. London: Harper ISBN 978-0-00-711871-7
|Look up lingua franca in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- English - the universal language on the Internet?
- Lingua franca del Mediterraneo o Sabir of professor Francesco Bruni (in Italian).
- Sample texts from Juan del Encina, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Carlo Goldoni's L'Impresario da Smyrna, Diego de Haedo and other sources.
- An introduction to the original Mediterranean Lingua Franca.