Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

What Is A Lingua Franca?


By Stephanie Ciccarelli

July 13, 2012

Comments (5)

Businessman in a gray suit walking with his briefcase on a bridge near Big Ben in London, UK.In many countries a variety of languages are spoken, and sometimes, a common or bridge language is used for commerce and governance which connects people who do not speak the same native language.

Do you use a lingua franca to do business?

Join the conversation in today's VOX Daily!

Lingua Francas

In a world where there are over 6,800 languages presently spoken, more than just a few words here and there can get lost in translation. This is why being able to speak a lingua franca, or a common, bridge language, comes in handy.

For those of us living in North America, and for most people who read this blog, English is our primary language. Fortunately for us, English also happens to serve as the current lingua franca for international business, science, technology and aviation.

As you may have noticed, lingua francas vary from continent to continent and on a more granular level, from country to country, even from region to region. Papua New Guinea (PNG), for instance, is a country where 830 distinct languages are spoken. Can you imagine that? PNG has 3 official languages and the lingua franca most commonly used is Tok Pisin. English is the language used for their parliament, in business and is the language taught in their schools.

Examples Of Widely Used Lingua Francas

๏ Arabic
๏ Chinese
๏ French
๏ Russian
๏ Spanish

Do You Rely on a Lingua Franca To Work?

Looking forward to hearing about your experiences and insight! Comment now and join the conversation.

Best wishes,


Related Topics: French, union


    830 distinct languages in Papua New Guinea? Wow, talk about challenging to communicate with each other! In India, Hindi is the official language of the Republic of India, yet there are several hundred mother tongues throughout the country.

    Posted by:

      Taim mi stap long PNG, mi save toktok long Tok Pisin! That's Tok Pisin for, "When I'm in PNG, I speak in Tok Pisin." It's a very handy language, easy for English speakers to learn, and parts of its vocabulary have made their way into my English as well. You really couldn't get along very well in PNG without it. One slight correction, though: English is the official language that is used in parliament and business, and is the language taught in schools. Tok Pisin is the language everyone uses to communicate with everyone else who doesn't speak their mother tongue - which, in a country with 830 languages, is most people from outside your village!

      Posted by:
      • Rebekah
      • July 13, 2012 9:14 PM

        Hi Rebekah,

        Thank you for that correction! I should have reviewed my notes better or checked with you first :) I have made the edit to reflect that English is the language used for parliament and business with the addition of schools. Always a pleasure to hear from you!

        Best wishes,

        Posted by:

          I'm surprised to see no mention of Esperanto, a planned language which belongs to no one country or group of states.

          Esperanto works as a lingua franca! I've used it in speech and writing in about fifteen countries over recent years. I recommend it to any nomad, as a way of making friendly local contacts.

          Posted by:
          • Bill Chapman
          • July 19, 2012 3:06 PM

            I think we need a spoken lingua franca for the World as well.

            So which language should it be? The British learn French, the Australians study Japanese and the Americans prefer Spanish.

            Yet this leaves Mandarin Chinese out of the equation.

            Why not a neutral non-national language like Esperanto :)

            Not many people know about this language. Have a look at http://www.lernu.net which is currently receiving 125,000 hits per day.

            Posted by:

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