What is ELF?
This chapter sketches out what is generally meant by the term English as a lingua franca (ELF) and the claims its supporters make for it. It then considers the notion of the native speaker, and the position of native English speakers (NES) in ELF, and seeks to distinguish ELF from World Englishes or New Englishes, the nativized or indigenized varieties used in former British colonial territories. Unlike nativized World Englishes, ELF is not, and will almost certainly never become, a stable variety, because of the range of participants in the international use of English. The term 'lingua franca' comes from a contact language used in the eastern Mediterranean from the eleventh to the early nineteenth centuries. Native speakers tend to get a bad press in work on bilingualism and ELF. Other linguists are rather more sceptical about the very notion of ELF, and the possibility of 'endonormative' standards for expanding circle speakers.