For most people, language is a basic skill in their lives. The idea of lingua franca was invented long ago, there was that Dutchman who excitedly invented his common language for the world free to use in 18th century. But his language failed, and failed really hard. At the time, the so called lingua francas were actually French and German.
To this day, just 70 years after WW2, English has become the modern time’s lingua franca. And due to the booming of international trade, Internet and all sorts of telecommunication techs that bind the Earth together, a common language is needed necessarily.
But what defines a common language, what language itself is certified for a global use? Technically and mechanically?
English becoming the lingua franca largely thanks to the overpower position of the United States in the past decades. Businesses, trades and immigration and the others have set English a common language for the modern people. Everywhere in the world is learning English as their second language. And of course, the prevalence of English has to thank to the legacy of British Empire. The English colonies were a formidable force that needs to be reckoned with.
So the reasons, mostly are revolving around historical events. And the other aspects of a language becoming a lingua franca are for the advancedness of the language speaking country.
Why the Dutchman’s “world language” didn’t succeed? Because at the time, France and Germany are the economic and technological pillars of the world. Their technologies were at the cutting-edge level, and countries surrounding them all had the translation of their books. Thus French and German were much widespread than English.
Talking about being lingua franca, does a language suits perfectly or specifically for a lingua franca? The answer is NO.
Humans are geographical species. (人是地缘生物) They relate themselves most definitely to the earth that bears them, and the sky that covers them and of course the water that grows them. In Chinese, we say this as “一方水土养一方人”. We humans are simple, and cultures spread radioactively.
So the mother tongue of one man determines his ability to learn the second language, for the average people. For example, a central African definitely has a hard time learning Chinese or any other East Asian languages. The same applies to West Europeans.
I saw many news reports about how the other non-English speaking countries’ students fail at English the language. I don’t think it’s a surprise. The contemporary world has forced them to learn the “lingua franca” that their mother tongues don’t allow them.
Only a small portion of population can succeed in a second or third language perfectly, and these people have language talents.
And we all know that language is a tool that you would use everyday, and this applies to many other countries that don’t speak English. And the learning time of a language is also very crucial to a man’s language development in his later life.
Due to multiple geographic and cultural reasons, people have a hard time learning English. So that’s why they can only handle the language on a basic level. If you try to delve deeper into the language, this either needs language talent or you have a good age in learning the language, otherwise the language is going to be hard for you for sure.
And that’s mostly the case. In modern times, what we use as the common language, we don’t use it perfectly, only for the communication’s sake.