English Lingua Franca: Expanding scenarios and growing dilemmas


Abstract - It is an incontrovertible fact that, with the spread of English as a lingua franca (ELF), we are at present witnessing “an unprecedented linguistic situation” in which “a language has reached truly global dimensions, across continents, domains, and social strata […] accelerated by the dramatic expansion of electronic communication through the internet” (Seidlhofer 2011). ELF as a contact language – with a sociolinguistic function, differentiated according to place, time, and context – is in constant growth and expansion. While it brings obvious advantages to its users as enabling them to ‘language’ across linguacultural boundaries, researchers in ELF also recognize that it also gives rise to different dilemmas that need to be addressed. ELF, for example, is inevitably involved in the socio-political, religious and economic issues that come up in the critical situations generated by unprecedented displacement and migration, where it is the principal, and sometimes the only means of interaction and mediation. In the field of education, an enlarged and increasingly diversified community of ELF speakers at universities, schools, and in occupational domains, raises questions as to how conventional ideas about the language are appropriate to this new situation. ELF study is then a particularly significant one in the present globalized world and so creating occasions for international debate about its wider implications and the dilemmas it raises becomes a necessary task for academic and educational institutions to undertake. This special issue – based on selected talks presented at the International Symposium “English Lingua Franca: Expanding Scenarios and Growing Dilemmas” (Sapienza University, Rome, 6-7 April 2017) and their further development – aim to provide the setting for such a debate whereby some of the most prominent figures in the field can exchange, express and discuss their ideas and findings.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v24

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