Dimensions of English as a lingua franca

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Since the beginning of the 20th century English has gradually become the world-wide lingua franca of science, business, technology, diplomacy, travel and even informal intercultural communication. The increasing use of English as the main language for communication between representatives of different cultures is regarded both as an advantage and as a “threat to linguistic diversity posed by the globalization of communication and the tendency to use a single language, at the risk of marginalizing the other major languages of the world, or even of causing the lesser-used languages, including regional languages, to disappear” (Resolution 12 ‘Implementation of a language policy for the world based on multilingualism’, adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO at its 30th session in 1999). This is why the intentions of this paper are twofold: firstly, to discuss current research on English in communicative contexts where it is already established as a lingua franca, such as diplomacy, scientific interaction and teaching English as a foreign language, as the insights gathered in these studies may provide a model for coping with the challenges of intercultural communication in general; and secondly, to suggest that the new dimensions of English as a lingua franca need not be in conflict with the concern for protecting cultural and linguistic diversity.


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