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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 5: Beyond the Prescribed System


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Chapter 5 Beyond the Prescribed System

Although the use of Aeronautical English seems to be well regulated internationally and there are obligatory language tests to be taken by NNS pilots and ATCOs, as well as AeE refresher courses, we still hear about air or ground incidents caused by miscommunication where insufficient or improper AeE is a contributing factor. These mainly include: loss of standard separation from other aircraft, altitude deviations, runway incursions, near mid-air collisions, as well as dangerous situations on the ground. There are still occasions when airline crews and ATCOs fail to manage situations adequately by deviating from the prescribed standards, including linguistic ones, being at the same time unconscious of the errors they make. The increase of volume and the complexity of aviation operations worldwide entails the volume and complexity of aeronautical communications. Thus, automatically, the possibility of misunderstandings increases. Consequently, miscommunication between ATCOs and pilots constitutes an international issue. On the one hand, it seems obvious that the common aim of avialinguistics is to detect, observe, analyse and describe the nature of linguistic errors in aviation miscommunications in order to understand why and how they happen. Such processes should be followed by pragmatic attempts to eliminate such errors in the future. On the other hand, avialinguistics should also investigate if there are any limitations of the English language or AeE that give rise to aeronautical communication breakdowns.

According to Estival and Molesworth (2012: 357), miscommunication is “a mismatch between...

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