English as a lingua franca – a native-culture-free code?

Language of communication vs. language of identification


  • Sabine Fiedler


english as a lingua franca, identity, phraseology, native-culture-free code, language policy, equitable international communication


English has become the dominant means of international communication. Its non-native speakers now far outnumber the conventional native speakers in the UK, the USA, Canada etc. Against this background, a number of authors have recently stressed the functions for which foreign languages are learned. They make a distinction between a ‘language of communication’ and a ‘language of identification’. The terms, which were coined by the German applied linguist Werner Hüllen (1992), have recently been popularised in the context of English as a lingua franca. English, it is said, can be used as a language of communication without necessarily being a language of identification. As it is used for practical communicative purposes, correctness and particular stylistic features associatedwith the speech community from which it originates are of lesser importance. Recent developments in European language policy seem to be focused in the same direction with the proposal that the EU should advocate the idea of a “personal adoptive language”. This language should be freely chosen by every European and it should be “different from his or her language of identity, and also different from his or her language of international communication” (Maalouf 2008). The paper examines the use of the terms ‘language of communication’ and ‘language of identification’ in the literature and challenges the existence of the dichotomy with regard to the English language as it is used today. Focusing on phraseology (i.e. idiomatic phrases and pre-fabricated speech), the article shows a number of language practices that are used by non-native speakers of English to display identity.

How to Cite

Fiedler, S. (2011). English as a lingua franca – a native-culture-free code? Language of communication vs. language of identification. Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies, 5(3), 79–97. Retrieved from https://apples.journal.fi/article/view/97829