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The Study of Language for Aviation Purposes


Anna P. Borowska

The book presents the first comprehensive description of avialinguistics. The author analyses this new interdisciplinary branch of applied linguistics that recognises the role of language for aviation purposes. She provides an integrated approach to Aeronautical English and proffers insights into aviation discourse, discussing its current linguistic errors and providing suggestions for aviation English communication improvement. The author tests theoretical considerations against illustrative real-life examples so as to facilitate an interpretation of regular pilot-controller communications.

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Chapter 1: The Origins of Aviation English


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Chapter 1 The Origins of Aviation English

1.1 Early beginnings

Aviation specialists have developed a language that is entirely different from common speech. As a consequence, their speech and texts may be difficult to understand for ordinary people. Aviation English is a young (sub)language with neither a long nor a complex history. From its inception the history of early modern aviation has been associated with the English language. It was in Yorkshire where George Cayley (1773–1857) spent his life working intensely on engineering, social, and political problems. However, the dominant interest of his life was heavier-than-air flight and in 1799 for the first time in history he set forth the concept of the modern airplane. Cayley identified the drag vector – parallel to the flow, and the lift vector – perpendicular to the flow. Also in 1804, he designed, built, and flew a small model glider, which represented the first modern configuration of an airplane. It included both a fixed wing and a horizontal and vertical tail that could be adjusted (Anderson 2004). His efforts earned him the epithet the “Father of Aviation”.

Later, people of various nationalities endeavoured to construct flying machines, but on a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, USA, two brothers from Ohio, Orville and Willbur Wright, managed to transform history.1 Indeed, following their impossible feat, it would take the world some time to believe what had happened, namely: the age of...

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