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Alan Firth

Conversation Analysis and Lingua Franca

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This entry outlines an emerging body of research that deploys conversation analytic (CA) methodology and its theoretical underpinnings to explicate the micro‐details of talk and social interaction between people who communicate in a lingua franca (LF). An LF may be defined as a “contact” or “vehicular” language used by people who do not share a first language (L1) and who are not native speakers (NSs) or L1 speakers of the language being deployed. An example of an encounter where the language used may be characterized as an LF is an L1 speaker of Spanish interacting with an L1 speaker of Mandarin Chinese in French—in which case French is the LF. As this example indicates, a language's characterization as an LF is determined not by the characteristics of the linguistic code but by the relationship of its speakers to the language being deployed. The term “LF” does not describe or imply any particular level of speaker proficiency, linguistic sophistication, or communicative competence. Any language can function as an LF, although it is widely accepted that English has, in recent decades, become the world's preeminent LF (e.g. Jenkins, 2006). This is reflected in the fact that the bulk of empirical research has concentrated on how English has been used in its guise as an LF.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Applied Linguistics
EditorsCarol A. Chapelle
Number of pages5
Place of publicationNew York
PublisherWiley
Publication year2013
Pages1043-1047
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Conversation analysis, lingua franca

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