Definition of lingua franca in English:

lingua franca


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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The common language must be the lingua franca of the country, English.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Swahili originated on the coast and became the lingua franca (common language) for much of East Africa.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Other studies indicate that signed languages developed in cases where peoples using mutually unintelligible spoken dialects used sign language as a lingua franca.’
    • ‘English is the lingua franca of computer software.’
    • ‘The national language of Zambia is English, which also serves as the lingua franca (common language).’
    • ‘The same is true for the ‘non-standard’ dialects of Yabem, an Austronesian language used as a mission lingua franca.’
    • ‘Although English is generally touted as the lingua franca in Fiji, all sociolinguistic research to date has shown this to be an exaggeration.’
    • ‘We alternated speaking in French, the language of all educated Mauritians, and English, the lingua franca of the computer literate.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Yet in Singapore, English, not Chinese, is the chief lingua franca, the official language of government, and the main medium of instruction.’
    • ‘But the lingua franca was the language of money as tourists picked up souvenirs and shopkeepers counted their cash.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Hausa, which is spoken by over half the population, has become the lingua franca (common language) of the country.’
    • ‘And it's the lingua franca, not the minority language, however socially powerful, which eventually wins out in these circumstances.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This principle, applied in concert with the concept of human capital mentioned above, can explain the emergence of a lingua franca, a common language.’
    language, dialect, patois, vernacular, mother tongue, native tongue, jargon, argot, cant, pidgin, creole
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1historical A mixture of Italian with French, Greek, Arabic, and Spanish, formerly used in the Levant.


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


lingua franca

/ˌlɪŋɡwə ˈfræŋkə//ˌliNGɡwə ˈfraNGkə/