1. Defining the Field
The need for teaching and learning foreign languages in order to foster trade and commerce is an old one, probably dating back to the first advanced civilisations in Mesopotamia and around the Mediterranean Sea. It must have flourished in ancient Greece and Rome when those realms started to communicate with foreign peoples, leaders and merchants, although the need for Greeks and Romans to learn the languages of dependent peoples must have been lower than that for the indigenous populations of defeated regions to learn Greek and Latin. The hegemony of the Roman Empire in particular sealed the birth of Latin as the lingua franca for centuries to come. Throughout the European medieval period, Latin served as the language of liturgy and learning, and in certain disciplines, such as medicine or law, it managed to maintain some influence until the present day. The medieval times also saw the birth of the term lingua franca, which described the pidgin blend of European languages used for commerce in eastern Mediterranean ports (Walker, 2010, p. 6). The secularisation of modern civilisation and the rise of vernacular languages, however, led to a continuous decline of Latin as the language of education: “European countries feature historically deeply entrenched and well-developed higher education systems that have evolved in the respective national languages since the middle of the 19th century” (Dalton-Puffer, 2012, p. 101). By the end of the twentieth century, English had long replaced Latin and any vernacular blend as the modern lingua franca of...
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