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Intercultural Pragmatics

Editor-in-Chief: Kecskes, Istvan

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Volume 6, Issue 2


The lingua franca factor

Alan Firth
Published Online: 2009-05-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/IPRG.2009.009


This article explores the question of whether there is anything peculiar—linguistically, discursively, and interactionally—about English as a lingua franca. Is there, in other words, a “lingua franca” factor at play? If, as some have speculated, this is indeed the case, in uncovering unique features of English as a lingua franca, we can hope to produce detailed descriptions and pedagogical materials that will further bolster the status of English as a lingua franca within Applied Linguistics, that will enhance our understanding of matters relating to multilingualism, multicompetence, additional language learning, intercultural communication, and spoken interaction. The article contends that there is a “lingua franca factor,” but argues that it resides not in the language or discourse forms produced, but in two other spheres, one being entailment, the other in metatheory. “Entailment” concerns the inherent interactional and linguistic variability that lingua franca interactions entail. “Metatheory” refers to theoretical underpinnings and dispositions brought about by adopting a lingua franca outlook on language.

About the article

Published Online: 2009-05-14

Published in Print: 2009-05-01

Citation Information: Intercultural Pragmatics, Volume 6, Issue 2, Pages 147–170, ISSN (Online) 1613-365X, ISSN (Print) 1612-295X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/IPRG.2009.009.

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