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The term lingua franca refers to a language most widely used: adopted as a
common means of communication between people of different languages. English
is the current lingua franca of the world, and people worldwide are fast
becoming acclimated to its use. Despite superficial differences, such as
accents, an overall proficiency in English is steadily growing. Accents
simply bear the tonal qualities of the regional dialects. India, for
example, speaks with a distinct accent, yet maintains a high level of
literacy and proficiency.
In the past Koine Greek, Latin and French served as a lingua franca in the
Western-dominated world. In some regions of the world, there are other
languages that perform this function; for example, Swahili in Eastern
Africa, Hindi in most of India, Bislama in the Pacific islands, and various
other Pidgin languages in other locations, and times.
Esperanto and Ido are constructed languages that some people propose as a
replacement for English as the global lingua franca. Their supporters argue
that a lingua franca should be as simple as possible, while still being
highly expressive. They claim that English and other natural languages,
being ethnically derived, are not suitable for a common language, since each
ethnic language contains caveats and idiosyncracies that hamper their
ability to be learned, and since ethinc languages confer an automatic
advantage to native speakers in interaction between native speakers and
Constructed languages tend to base their premise of universality on the
assumption of a need for extreme simplicity, and the premise that non-native
speakers should not be at a disadvantage. Their advocates claim that
idiosyncratic elements as presented in ethnic languages are a major obstacle
to a functional degree of use in that language. Unfortunately some learning
curve still applies to constructed languages; and as such, their use is
According to advocates of constructed languages, the number of speakers is
no measure of the intrinsic value of a constructed language. If a
constructed language (or other language with few speakers) were to be
decided upon such as by international agreement to be used as an
international auxiliary language, the number of speakers would rise to meet
the demand. At present, the demand for speakers of constructed languages is
limited, though Esperanto is said to have gained currency as a lingua franca
Lingua Franca (Italian meaning "Frankish language") or Sabir ("to know") was
an early pidgin language, used in the Mediterranean area from the 14th
century or earlier and still in use in the 20th century.
It had a heavy influence of Romance languages, especially Italian dialects.
It was the language used between slaves and their captors in the bagnio of Algiers.
According to the monogenetic theory of the origin of pidgins pioneered by
Hugo Schuchardt, Lingua Franca was known by Mediterranean sailors including
the Portuguese. When Portuguese started exploring the seas of Africa,
America, Asia and Oceania, they tried to communicate with the natives by
mixing a Portuguese-influenced version of Lingua Franca with the local
languages. When English or French ships came to compete with the Portuguese,
the crew tried to learn this "broken Portuguese". Through a process of
relexification, the Lingua Franca and Portuguese wordstock was substituted
by the languages of the peoples in contact.
This theory explains the similarities between most of the European-based
pidgins and creoles, like Tok Pisin, Papiamento, Krio, Chinese English
Pidgin. These languages use forms similar to sabir for "to know" and
piquenho for "children".
Lingua Franca left traces in today's Algerian slang and Polari. Polari from
Italian parlare ("to talk") was a cant used by London variety artists and gays.
English words like "savvy" (from sabir) and "pickanniny" can be traced to