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Chapter 1 Introduction This book is about the widest use of English in the world today: English as a lingua franca (ELF). ELF is defined as “any use of English among speakers of different first languages for whom English is the communicative medium of choice, and often the only option” (Seidlhofer 2011: 7). English today is a lingua franca which brings millions together in a wide range of communicative situations in numerous settings for a broad spectrum of purposes. As you are reading these lines, a very large number of people with different first languages are communicating through English as a lingua franca in business meetings, in conferences and other academic discussions, or sports activities, to name a few. Businessmen are busy trying to land deals, academics are giving lectures or having research meetings, university students are working out the details in their new institutions, and all of this, they do through English as a lingua franca. English, in this sense, has reached truly global dimensions no other language has come near before. It is used in a very large number of domains, spoken by millions of people for different purposes. This is not to say that there are no other lingua francas. Other languages are used as lingua francas centralized in particular regions in the world, such as Russian and Spanish; however, “it is English and English alone that can reasonably claim to have become a global lingua franca” (Van Parijs 2011: 11). In the present context, ‘lingua franca’ is used in a different sense from the original meaning of the term. The original term ‘lingua franca’ refers to the oldest pidgin for which there is a reasonable amount of data for investigation (Parkvall 2005). It has been suggested that the meaning of the term comes from Arabic and Greek. Before the Crusades and during the Middle Ages, Western Europeans were referred to as ‘Franks’ in Arabic and ‘Phrankoi’ in Greek during the times of the late Eastern Roman Empire. So lingua franca was the language of the Franks, and it was a mixed trade language used by the language communities around the Mediterranean to communicate with others, as these comunities did not share a common language. It consisted mainly of Italian mixed with Turkish, French, Greek, Arabic, Portuguese and Spanish. It had limited vocabulary and grammar, and it lacked verb tenses and case– it did however develop a past and a future tense around the seventeenth century during its golden age (Corré Bereitgestellt von | De Gruyter / TCS Angemeldet | Heruntergeladen am | 04.03.13 15:02

English as an Academic Lingua Franca

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