© 2020

The Elusive Case of Lingua Franca

Fact and Fiction


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-v
  2. Joanna Nolan
    Pages 1-24
  3. Joanna Nolan
    Pages 25-56
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 105-106

About this book


"Lingua Franca, the Mediterranean contact language spoken from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, remains one of the most intriguing topics of language studies. Jo Nolan presents new evidence from archives, descriptions and literary texts, and offers a compelling reanalysis of Lingua Franca and extends our understanding of multilingualism in space and time." -- Lutz Marten, SOAS, UK

This book explores many of the unanswered questions surrounding the original and eponymous Lingua Franca, a language spoken by peoples across the Mediterranean and North Africa for nearly three centuries. Allowing people from different countries, classes and cultures to interact with one another for the purposes of trade, piracy, slavery and diplomacy - among many other domains - Lingua Franca was lexified by Romance languages, including Italian and its dialects, Spanish, French and Portuguese, with possible Turkish and Arabic influences as well. The potential unreliability of source accounts, the blurring of fact and fiction across documentary and dramatic sources, and the linguistic biases and plurilingual repertoire of many of Lingua Franca’s speakers all combine to make Lingua Franca an elusive topic for examination. The author draws upon previously unexplored documentary evidence, including correspondence from the era found in The National Archives at Kew, to shed light onthe multilingual and plurilingual landscape that fostered Lingua Franca’s development and spread, and its influence on the written domain. This book will be of interest to students and scholars of colonial history, linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics and language contact.

Joanna Nolan is a Tutor at SOAS, University of London, UK. She has taught linguistics courses to both undergraduates and Masters’ students.


Barbary the Franks the Crusades Italian Spanish Provençal North African studies pidgin and creoles colonial history of North Africa history of the Mediterranean

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.SOASLondonUK

About the authors

Joanna Nolan is a Tutor at SOAS, University of London, UK. She has taught linguistics courses to both undergraduates and Masters’ students.

Bibliographic information