English as a lingua franca

Salikoko Mufwene mufw at MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU
Sun Apr 29 01:01:15 UTC 2001

At 05:15 PM 4/28/2001 -0400, Beverly Flanigan wrote:

>The first use of the term Lingua Franca (marked now with caps), as I recall
>from creole studies, was in fact to refer to the mixed trade language used
>around the Mediterranean area in the first few centuries C.E. and derived
>mainly from Latin and its already evolving dialects (hence the Arabs'
>notion that it was the language of the generalized northern or Frankish
>tribes), mixed considerably with Arabic, Turkish, Greek and other regional

     The most authoritative study on Lingua Franca (in creole studies--or
historical linguistics for that matter) is Hugo Schuchardt in an article
"Die Lingua Franca" published in 1909 in Zeitschrift fur Romanische
33. A useful translation of this was published by T. L. Markey in 1979: The
Ethnography of Variation: Selected writings on pidgins and creoles [by] Hugo
Schuchardt. According to this source Lingua Franca developed in the Middle
from a Romance lexicon out of contacts between the Romans and Arabs, and
subsequently the Turks.

     The use of "Romans" in this context seems rather inconsistent but Robert
Chaudenson (in Creolization of Language and Culture--coming this May at
Routledge), who has spent more time on the question, reveals that the term had
been used, by the Arabs in particular, in reference to people in the Roman
Empire. After the Western part of the Empire collapsed, the term "Frank(ish)"
was often used for its inhabitants, with "rum" often used for those in the
Eastern part of the Empire.

    This is the first time I see Latin vocabulary invoked. "Romance
lexicon" is
what I see in Markey's translation of Schuchardt's article (p. 25). Actually,
last weekend I attended a meeting on the notions "pidgin" and "creole" in
London and one of the papers was on Lingua Franca. The authors (Jacques Arends
and Esther Muusse) focused on Spanish, which Schuchardt identified as the most
influential contributor to LF in the Western Mediterranean.


Salikoko S. Mufwene                        s-mufwene at uchicago.edu
University of Chicago                      773-702-8531; FAX 773-834-0924
Department of Linguistics
1010 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
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