English as a Lingua Franca and Translation
University of Hamburg, Germany and Hellenic American University, Greece
ByJuliane House
Pages 20

Keywords: English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), Covert translation, Community of practice, Language for communication, Localization, Glocalization, Cultural filtering.


One of the most influential developments in the worldwide use of languages today is the spread of English and the ever growing importance of the English language in many contexts and genres worldwide. This situation also has consequences for the practice of translation. A recent breakdown by source languages presented by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation (2009) shows that as much as 72.5% of source texts translated by the DGT (including those originating outside the Commission) were drafted in English (compared with 11.8% in French and 2.7% in German). The English texts were frequently written not by native speakers of English, but by speakers of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). What this surge in ELF texts may mean for translation and for translators is a field of inquiry that is as yet largely uncharted. In this paper I want to first look at what we mean by

the term English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) and briefly review work done in this field. I will then focus on the relationship between ELF, multilingualism and translation and discuss claims that ELF is a bastardized version of native English. Finally, I will look at claims that ELF ‘contaminates’ other languages through the rising number of translation activities from English into these languages, and that the growing influx of English lexical items into other languages inhibits concept formation for speakers of those languages.