English – A Truly International Language


Hello from Langports! Today, we want to look at English and explain why it truly is an international language.

Students often come to see us to ask what the difference is between Australian English, British English, American English, etc. Yes, of course, there are differences in pronunciation and some vocabulary, but we think we should really be seeing English as an international language which incorporates different accents, pronunciation, vocabulary, etc. After all, English is the ‘lingua franca’ (common language) currently used in the world.     

What is ‘Lingua Franca’?

‘Lingua franca,’ we hear you say – that doesn’t sound very English!! Well, you’re right! If you look at the English language, it has ‘borrowed’ lots of words and phrases from different languages which are now used as part of everyday English, or should we say International English. As the language developed in Europe, it had many close neighbouring languages including French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Latin. All these languages have impacted on the development of English.   

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For example,

So if we look at French, we can see the following examples have been incorporated:

  • A la carte – individually priced items on restaurant menu
  • Déjà vu – the sensation that you have already experienced the same feeling before
  • En route – travelling between two points
  • Fiancé/fiancée – the man/woman you are going to marry

And Italian:

  • Lingua franca – common language
  • Alfresco – open air/outdoors
  • Fiasco – total disaster
  • Prima donna – a diva

And Latin:

  • Bone fida – authentic/genuine
  • Curriculum Vitae – CV or resume
  • Status quo – the existing state of things

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These are just a few examples out of hundreds (maybe thousands?) of words and phrases. Outside of Europe, other languages have also influenced English:

  • Bungalow – one storey home (Hindi)
  • Kung Fu – you know Kung Fu!! (Chinese)
  • Sofa – couch (Arabic)

So, it doesn’t matter where you are speaking English, or if you are a native or non-native speaker – from the business language of the Middle-East, to global aviation communication, from Hollywood movies, to your holiday on a beach in Thailand, you’ll need to use International English!!  


Now, go forth and practice!

Other Academic Blogs:

“Improving your vocabulary”: 

“Expectations when learning a foreign language”:

“How to master your presentation”: