A lingua franca is any language widely used beyond the population of its native speakers. The de facto status of lingua franca is usually "awarded" by the masses to the language of the most influential nation(s) of the time. Any given language normally becomes a lingua franca primarily by being used for international commerce, but can be accepted in other cultural exchanges, especially diplomacy. Occasionally the term "lingua franca" is applied to a fully established formal language:
thus formerly it was said that French was the lingua franca of diplomacy.