Global languages and lingua franca communication

Authored by: Sonia Morán Panero

The Routledge Handbook of English as a Lingua Franca

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138855328
eBook ISBN: 9781315717173
Adobe ISBN:


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The current situation of English in the world is most commonly defined in academia by the unprecedentedness of its global status and functions. Although the world has seen previous lingua francas being used internationally, and although English is not the only set of linguistic resources operating as a lingua franca at present, the degree of global reach achieved by English has not been recorded in any language before (see e.g. Crystal, 1997; Murata and Jenkins, 2009: 1). In ELF studies, as in other academic fields that seek to understand language mobility in an era of globalisation, scholars have sought to critically explore the linguistic, social and theoretical consequences that result from such unprecedented ‘globality’ (Ammon, 2010: 101). This crucial line of enquiry has been largely motivated by the understanding that, in addition to economic and political changes, globalisation processes have led to alterations of major relevance at societal, cultural and linguistic levels as well (see Coupland, 2010; Dewey, 2007; Fairclough, 2006; Giddens, 1999). Not only are some languages seen as global nowadays, but they also play a crucial role in the development of globalisation and they are affected by global processes in significant and unexpected ways. For instance, mobility and interactional patterns have been intensified and complexified by new and faster forms of transport and communication (see Coupland, 2003, 2010; Mar-Molinero, 2010) and as a result, linguistic resources are also being mobilised around the world at unprecedented rates. Deeper levels of interconnectivity are therefore making the interaction between people with different sets of linguistic resources more diverse than ever.

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