What made English the lingua franca?

Updated on : December 3, 2021 by Alexandra Rees



What made English the lingua franca?

Thanks for your question. Lingua franca? Time for a quick etymological check. Late 17th century: from Italian, literally 'lingua franca'. So they literally ask us when did English become Frankish? Look where the frank influence spread:

Source: Frankish language - Wikipedia

Except that the words lingua franca are Italian that come from Latin. Where the Catholic Church was, there was Latin.

Here is a map showing the spread of Christianity in 600 AD

Image: Ecclesiastical Latin - Wikipedia

By 1534, Luther had virtually created a written German language by translating the Bible. Luther's Bible - Wiki

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Thanks for your question. Lingua franca? Time for a quick etymological check. Late 17th century: from Italian, literally 'lingua franca'. So they literally ask us when did English become Frankish? Look where the frank influence spread:

Source: Frankish language - Wikipedia

Except that the words lingua franca are Italian that come from Latin. Where the Catholic Church was, there was Latin.

Here is a map showing the spread of Christianity in 600 AD

Image: Ecclesiastical Latin - Wikipedia

By 1534, Luther had virtually created a written German language by translating the Bible. Luther's Bible - Wikipedia

In England, the twin pillars of "modern" English were the King James Bible (1611) and Shakespeare (died 1616). The Bible was a bit archaic, traditional, and Latin. King James Version

Shakespeare was inventive, explosive, and exploratory; in other words, they were at opposite ends of each other. Early Modern English was less than 100 years old when Shakespeare was writing. Dictionaries had not yet been written and most of the documents were still written in Latin. Shakespeare contributed more than 3,000 words to the English language because he was the first author to write them. The language of Shakespeare | Royal Shakespeare Company

Britain's expansion had already begun, but it would take centuries for the British Empire to reach its peak.

Image: Maps of the most successful empires in history at their peak.

So, in part, English became the lingua franca of the world because of Empire. However, this not all. What is English? A German foundation, a great Scandinavian element, due to the Danish conquest. Norman French elements of their conquest. A multitude of later French influences, neologisms coined from Latin and Greek. An important Celtic influence. Then you have English, the language sponge that takes words from India, China, South America, or indeed anywhere. None of that from the Académie française for the English language, nor from the Royal Spanish Academy. See if you can find English listed here: List of Language Regulators - Wikipedia

So endless absorption without shackles or restraints. This has never stopped. How do you say death from overwork in English? How about karaoshi? A Japanese word.

So you may have unknowingly answered your own question when you wrote Lingua Franca.

Sources: Some ideas were taken from TS Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, (London: Faber and Faber, 1973).

The emergence of English as a world lingua franca can be attributed to a key fact: the United Kingdom and the United States are the successive global superpowers.

This is the current reach of English around the world.

Both the United Kingdom and the United States have English as their native vernacular. With their superpower status, both were able to make a considerable and significant impact around the world, making English vehicular across borders, in other words, lingua franca.

The former British Empire in its colonies, introduced English as a medium of instruction in schoo

Keep reading

The emergence of English as a world lingua franca can be attributed to a key fact: the United Kingdom and the United States are the successive global superpowers.

This is the current reach of English around the world.

Both the United Kingdom and the United States have English as their native vernacular. With their superpower status, both were able to make a considerable and significant impact around the world, making English vehicular across borders, in other words, lingua franca.

The former British Empire in its colonies introduced English as a medium of instruction in schools. Therefore, in countries like India, although English is not vernacular, the vast majority of the population studies it at least as a second language. Most of them are quite comfortable in English that doesn't mean they can speak fluently. Since people in the southern states are not as comfortable with Hindi, English is widely used as a lingua franca. The same applies to most of the other former British colonies.

The 19th century saw the spectacular rise and dominance of the US in international diplomacy, trade, science, and technology. This kept the popularity of English intact.

English literature has had many brilliant collaborators in both medieval and modern times. Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson are some of the many most popular.

Popular culture plays an important role in the diffusion of a language. Hollywood movies are extremely popular and influential.

The rise of the Internet has added another dimension to the spread of English. More than 50% of Internet content is in English. Naturally, people have a fundamental incentive to learn English in order to be able to access the materials.

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