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For other uses, see Lingua franca (disambiguation).

A lingua franca /ˌlɪŋɡwə ˈfræŋkə/ (plural usually lingua francas, sometimes linguae francae), also known as a bridge language, trade language or vehicular language, is a language systematically (as opposed to occasionally, or casually) used to make communication possible between persons not sharing a native language, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both native languages.

Lingua francas have developed around the world throughout human history, sometimes for commercial reasons (so-called "trade languages") but also for diplomatic and administrative convenience, and as a means of exchanging information between scientists and other scholars of different nationalities. The term originates with one such language, Mediterranean Lingua Franca.


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