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Mediterranean lingua franca online database

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Image: Map of Europe from the Cornaro Atlas produced in c.1489 for the Cornaro family, a patrician family of Venice.
London, British Library, MS Egerton 73, fol. 36r.

Mediterranean Lingua Franca

What is Mediterranean Lingua Franca?

The Mediterranean Lingua Franca (MLF) is an extinct trade language, with a Romance lexical base, used around the Mediterranean basin, from anywhere between the late medieval to early modern periods. Some scholars have considered it a pidgin with a Romance lexical base, while others see it as a trade language that never creolized. MLF has been described as (purportedly) containing linguistic elements from Arabic, Catalan, Latin, French, Greek, Occitan, Portuguese, Provençal, Spanish, and Turkish. 


What is this database for?

This database allows users to quickly verify whether their data finds correspondences within MLF. It has been designed as a resource for scholars working on MLF in order to verify whether the data they are working on has been recorded previously as belonging to the Mediterranean Lingua Franca, and in which documents. The database has been designed for those who wish a digital approach to multilingual text analysis, and as an open-source software for research into historical Italian and other Romance languages. 

Which data are contained in this database?

This database contains all 2,120 lexical entries from one of the main sources of MLF data, the Dictionnaire de la langue franque ou petit mauresque, suivi de quelques dialogues familiers et d’un vocabulaire de mots arabes les plus usuels; à l’usage des Français en Afrique. The Dictionnaire was composed by an anonymous author in 1830. It has been termed “the only comprehensive source” [die einzige umfassende Quelle] of MLF data by Hugo Schuchardt, one of the early scholars of the Mediterranean Lingua Franca. The Dictionnaire has beeen entirely digitized and is available for viewing on Gallica.

Which documents will the database contain in the future?

See the bottom of this page for a larger database which aims to continually add to the MFL data contained here. 

This page is a work in progress, and any feedback will be warmly received. Please email:


joshbrownwa at

Explore the Mediterranean Lingua Franca Database (MLFD) below! 

You can try searching for words in English, such as "happy", or "to love", or French words such as "nuit" or "sangloter". Alternatively you can look for MLF words you may have come across, such as "albéro" or "ockio".

Nota bene: search fields are case-sensitive and diacritics must be included.







No Record Found!

Building into the future: other corpora


The aim is to eventually create a much larger corpus from textual data that has been verified as containing MLF. A provisional database of these documents is listed below (taken from Arends, 1998, "A bibliography of Lingua Franca", The Carrier Pidgin, 26(4-5): 33-35). 


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