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Many people think the term arose because of the dominance of French in diplomatic circles, but I t's actually quite apropos; "lingua franca" is an early medieval term that essentially translates to "language of the Western Europeans" ("Franca" in this context is not modern France, but a term for historical Germany -- everything north of modern Spain, essentially). In the day, lingua franca was a patois consisting of bits of various languages that all traders in the region knew and could communicate in, though it was too mutable to be a stable language as such. Not unlike English, actually!

I had always just assumed it meant "French" so you got me reading (thanks!). Wiki seems to indicate the original lingua franca was based on the language of the Franks and mostly used in the eastern Med.


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