Definition of lingua franca in English:

lingua franca


  • 1A language that is adopted as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different.

    • ‘The national language of Zambia is English, which also serves as the lingua franca (common language).’
    • ‘But seeing the world as we do, and being informed about the multiple courses of its history, we can also see that the spread of a universal common language, a lingua franca, does not actually require the loss of smaller languages.’
    • ‘The common language must be the lingua franca of the country, English.’
    • ‘The same is true for the ‘non-standard’ dialects of Yabem, an Austronesian language used as a mission lingua franca.’
    • ‘In both these cases, the linguistic obstacle to interaction was overcome by the development of a lingua franca or common language which either replaced or supplemented the indigenous languages.’
    • ‘But the lingua franca was the language of money as tourists picked up souvenirs and shopkeepers counted their cash.’
    • ‘And it's the lingua franca, not the minority language, however socially powerful, which eventually wins out in these circumstances.’
    • ‘Hausa, which is spoken by over half the population, has become the lingua franca (common language) of the country.’
    • ‘We alternated speaking in French, the language of all educated Mauritians, and English, the lingua franca of the computer literate.’
    • ‘This principle, applied in concert with the concept of human capital mentioned above, can explain the emergence of a lingua franca, a common language.’
    • ‘Yet in Singapore, English, not Chinese, is the chief lingua franca, the official language of government, and the main medium of instruction.’
    • ‘Swahili originated on the coast and became the lingua franca (common language) for much of East Africa.’
    • ‘In other words, it is a lingua franca used between those for whom English is not their native language, but the only common language in which any sort of communication is possible.’
    • ‘It's little wonder that the Melanesian countries of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu adopted different varieties of pidgin as their lingua francas when they became independent nations.’
    • ‘Other studies indicate that signed languages developed in cases where peoples using mutually unintelligible spoken dialects used sign language as a lingua franca.’
    • ‘It first developed in the tenth century with the arrival of Arab traders; it was a lingua franca that allowed different tribes to communicate with each other and with the Arabs.’
    • ‘English is also a lingua franca, and new migrants need it to communicate with migrants with other community language backgrounds as well as with monolingual English speakers.’
    • ‘The second goal, acquisition of the prestige variety, is grounded in the knowledge that the standard language is the lingua franca of educated communities of speakers.’
    • ‘English is the lingua franca of computer software.’
    • ‘Although English is generally touted as the lingua franca in Fiji, all sociolinguistic research to date has shown this to be an exaggeration.’
    language, dialect, patois, vernacular, mother tongue, native tongue, jargon, argot, cant, pidgin, creole
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1historical mass noun A mixture of Italian with French, Greek, Arabic, and Spanish, formerly used in the eastern Mediterranean.


Late 17th century: from Italian, literally ‘Frankish tongue’.


lingua franca

/ˌlɪŋɡwə ˈfraŋkə/