The term “lingua franca” has both a general and a specific meaning. In general terms, it refers to a contact language, that is any language that people from different linguistic backgrounds use to communicate. When (usually) written with capital initials, it refers specifically to the pidgin language that was used up to the end of the nineteenth century in the Mediterranean area as a means of facilitating communication between traders or travellers. This article examines lingua francas in the general sense of the term.
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