Why lingua receptiva?

The employment of lingua receptiva is understandable when you have a look at the advantages it offers in comparison to those when you use of a foreign language or lingua franca, like English. The advantages have to do with the needed skills in a foreign language, but as well with the ease of the communication and with the importance of showing your own identity.


If people speak a foreign language that they do not know very well, they are afraid to make mistakes. This forms a barrier in speaking the foreign language. For the use of lingua receptiva however, a speaker only needs receptive competencies in the other language. Speakers can keep speaking in their own language, and “listen to” the foreign language. This will break down the barriers of expressing oneself in a language that you have a lesser command of (ten Thije, 2010). Using lingua receptiva, no one is more advantaged or disadvantaged when speaking in a foreign language.


An advantage of the use of lingua receptiva in meetings between different countries is the possibility to maintain the existing terminology from each country untranslated. It is often the case that bureaucratic terminology, from e.g. the judicial spheres, is complicated. A translation can even lead to more confusion. Even English often does not come up to the mark. Instead lingua receptiva offers a solution. Both speakers can use their own jargon and still understand each other. People that speak their own language are more capable of explaining misunderstandings several times. It is easier to explain a problem of understanding repeatedly in other words in the own language, until the other understands it, than in a foreign language.


To conclude, language is often seen as a means to express culture and identity. This is an important aspect as well when lingua receptiva is used. Since people can keep speaking their own language when communicating in lingua receptiva, both speakers have the opportunity to show their linguistic identity. In Europe, particularly, this is an important aspect. Fostering linguistic and cultural diversity is one of the main goals of the multilingualism policy of the EU. By using this form of intercultural communication, diversity can be better upheld (European Commission, 2012).


In this way lingua receptiva can be seen as the optimal form of intercultural communication, because both speakers accommodate to each other in the same way, but at the same time they can remain themselves.



  • European Commission (2012). Studies on translation and multilingualism. Intercomprehension. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
  • Thije, J.D. ten (2010). Lingua receptiva als bouwsteen voor de transnationale neerlandistiek. In Internationale Neerlandistiek: tijdschrift van de internationale vereniging voor Neerlandistiek, 4, 5-10.
Geactualiseerd op 5 November 2017.