Lingua europa is the term used to describe the common language of the lands ruled by Baron Klaus Wulfenbach. Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess reveals that the common language of the empire is Romanian. However, many characters have German names and accents, and it is clear that German is in widespread use, especially among Sparks and scholars.
Scientists are often also skilled in Latin and Greek. English is the common language for trade, French is the common language for diplomacy, Arabic is the common language of discussion for some mathematics, and Russian is the common language for jokes. Due to her secretarial duties for Tarsus Beetle, Agatha is fluent in them all.
On 22 Nov 2017 the Girl Genius Facebook page posted a reply comment that reads: "Just a quick note here. Most of the educated intelligentsia of Europa speak a half a dozen languages. English is the language of commerce and trade, but French is the language of diplomacy. Most doctors and scientists are proficient in German, Latin, Greek & Arabic. Mathematicians favor Russian. The day to day business of the Wulfenbach Empire is conducted in Romanian-specifically the Romanian found in the region of Transylvania." Referring to the page from the .
Possibly relevant outside information Edit
To understand the linguistic situation in Europa it is helpful to know that in historical Eastern Europe before World War II, use of native Romanian, Baltic, and Slavic languages coexisted with widespread use of German. There were entire German-speaking cities such as Kronstadt (modern Brasov) as far east as Transylvania, and every city of even modest size had a German quarter. Local kings had been encouraging German settlement since the High Medieval period, believing (generally correctly) that German farmers and craftsmen would improve their economies.
A significant fraction of the "Volkdeutsche" (Eastern European ethnic Germans) collaborated with the Nazis, and on these grounds almost the entire Volkdeutsche population was killed or expelled after the Allied victory. But for centuries before that they had often dominated commercial and urban life, being heavily represented (alongside the smaller Jewish minority) among skilled craftsmen, merchants, and the literate trades. A Polygnostic U. in the middle of Romanian-speaking Transylvania but full of ethnic-German faculty all speaking half a dozen languages each is a pretty close fictional analog of institutions that existed in real history.
The region being bossed around by an aristocratic family with a German name despite being well outside Germany or Austria also mirrors real history. This often happened - more commonly to the west and north, in the Slavic territories of the old Holy Roman Empire, but it wouldn't be unduly surprosing even in Romania. The Foglios only invert the historical pattern by having the von Wulfenbachs use Romanian as an administrative language; their real-history analogs generally held on to German until the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918 and in some cases (notably along the Baltic Coast) up until the final post-WWII expulsion of the Volksdeutche. As far back as the early 19th century linguistic friction between German-speaking elites and Slav/Romanian/Baltic speakers had been a significant driver of nationalist resentment.
The term "lingua Europa" is a neologism modelled on lingua franca, which is any language widely used beyond the population of its native speakers. The term comes from the Italian, literally meaning 'Frankish language', originating from the Arabic custom of referring to all Europeans as 'Franks' from the cultural exposure during the Crusades. The element "franca" does not specifically mean "French".
The original lingua franca (used in the Mediterranean from the 11th to 19th centuries) was mostly Italian with a broad vocabulary drawn from Persian, French, Greek and Arabic; one may infer from this that the lingua europa is Transylvanian-dialect Romanian (from the Baron's homeland and starting point of pacification), probably with heavy infiltrations of Volksdeutsche German and possibly with borrowings from other languages in the Slavic and Romance families.
In parallel to Europan use, in our world, German (from Wikipedia), "...served as a lingua franca in large portions of Europe for centuries, mainly the Holy Roman Empire.... From about 1200 to 1600, Middle Low German was the language of the Hanseatic League which was present in most Northern European seaports, even London.... During the 19th and 20th centuries, Germany was leading in the sciences — particularly in physics, chemistry and sociology, winning many Nobel Prizes — and the language was also used in international business and politics."