Lingua Franca

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  • Topic: Lingua franca, English language, Singapore
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  • Published : August 17, 2009
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Lingua Franca is a pidgin, a trade language used by numerous language communities around the Mediterranean, to communicate with others whose language they did not speak. It is, in fact, the mother of all pidgins, seemingly in use since the Middle Ages and surviving until the nineteenth century, when it disappeared with hardly a trace, probably under the onslaught of the triumphant French language, leaving only a few anecdotal quotations in the writings of travelers or observers, an imperfect French/Lingua Franca vocabulary (1830) meant for settlers in the newly annexed territory of Algeria, and some other rather strange detritus.

A lingua franca (from Italian, literally meaning Frankish language) is a language systematically used to communicate between persons not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both persons' mother tongues.

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 lingua francas are neither pidgins nor creoles.Lingua franca may also refer to the de facto language within a more or less specialized field.

A synonym for lingua franca is “vehicular language.” Whereas a vernacular language is used as a native language in a single speaker community, a vehicular language goes beyond the boundaries of its original community, and is used as a second language for communication between communities. For example, English is a vernacular in England, but is used as a vehicular language (that is, a lingua franca) in the Philippines. References:

In many countries around the world, English is the lingua franca, but in some places, it is a native language; in others, it is a second language or a foreign language. In India, the Philippines and Singapore, English is viewed as second language next to their respective first languages.

English will not decline as a first language: Indeed for the foreseeable future it will be among the five major mother tongues of the world. Spread out worldwide, it may even change and ultimately split into a family of languages. But it would go against the pattern of world history if alien peoples patronized English for very much longer than necessary. Chinese, Hindi, Spanish and Portuguese--possibly also Russian, Malay, Persian and Arabic--have the potential to increase within their vast regions, and perhaps even globally. The aspirations of some of these languages are already visible, if far from realization. China is a third of the way into its program to establish 100 Confucius Institutes around the world to popularize learning Chinese. They are now present in 23 countries, part of plans to have 100 million people studying Chinese worldwide by 2010.

How lingua franca is developed?

Hundreds of years ago, when the world was being traversed by sailors from dozens of nations, and each vessel was manned by any number of nationalities, new languages called lingua franca began to emerge. These languages were often a blend of Portuguese, English, French, Mandarin and local languages, and allowed for communication and trade between the polyglot merchants both on board and on the mainland. Several examples of it exist today - the pidgin of Papua New Guinea is one example.

Worldwide lingua franca

Malay - Country :Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia
In the 14th century, during the Malacca Sultanate, Malay was used as a lingua franca in the Malay archipelago, by the locals as much as by the traders and artisans that stopped at Malacca via the Straits of Malacca. Nowadays, Malay is used mostly in Malaysia (officially called Bahasa Malaysia) and Brunei, and to a lesser extent in Singapore. One of Singapore's four official languages, the Malay creole language Baba Malay was the lingua franca in Singapore prior to the introduction of English as a working and instructional...
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