The Pragmatics of Aeronautical English: an investigation through Corpus Linguistics / A Pragmática do inglês aeronáutico: uma investigação pela Linguística de Corpus

Malila Carvalho de Almeida Prado


Abstract: The ICAO Language Proficiency Rating Scale offers parameters for aeronautical English teaching and assessment focused on oral skills. It assists governments worldwide in assessing pilots and air traffic controllers’ English proficiency, licensing them for international operations. This paper addresses two of the six linguistic areas listed in the Rating Scale, namely fluency and interaction, to understand what conversational elements are present in pilot-controller communications with a view to informing pedagogical material. The analysis is based on a corpus of pilot-controller radio communications in abnormal situations, revealing a more spontaneous code as opposed to the documented Standard Phraseology mandated for routine situations. Corpus Linguistics is the methodology chosen for this investigation, concentrated on the top frequent three-word clusters extracted from the corpus. Investigation of these clusters reveals that fluency and interaction are interconnected and should be considered in a broader perspective that takes into account language in use. To illustrate, ‘we’d like’ and ‘if you can’ are commonly employed as requests in this specific register. The paper concludes by suggesting that learners’ awareness of pragmatic aspects of language is pivotal in the aviation English classroom.

Keywords: Plain Aviation English; fluency; interaction; Corpus Linguistics; Pragmatics.

Resumo: A Escala de Proficiência Linguística da ICAO oferece parâmetros para o ensino e a avaliação do inglês aeronáutico focado nas habilidades orais. Serve para os governos em todo o mundo avaliarem a proficiência em inglês de pilotos e controladores de tráfego aéreo, licenciando-os para operações internacionais. Este estudo aborda duas das seis áreas linguísticas elencadas na Escala, quais sejam, fluência e interação, para compreender quais elementos conversacionais estão presentes nas comunicações entre pilotos e controladores com o objetivo de subsidiar materiais pedagógicos. A análise se baseia em um corpus de comunicações via rádio entre pilotos e controladores em situações anormais, revelando um código mais espontâneo, diferentemente da Fraseologia Padrão oficial mandatória nas situações rotineiras. A Linguística de Corpus é a metodologia utilizada nesta investigação, concentrada nos mais frequentes blocos de linguagem de três palavras evidenciados no corpus de estudo. A investigação desses blocos de linguagem revela que fluência e interação são interconectadas e deveriam ser consideradas a partir da perspectiva da língua em uso. Para ilustrar, ‘we’d like’ e ‘if you can’ são normalmente empregados como solicitações. Conclui-se sugerindo que a conscientização dos aprendizes sobre aspectos pragmáticos da língua é fundamental na sala de aula do inglês aeronáutico.

Palavras-chave: Plain Aviation English; fluência; interação; Linguística de Corpus; Pragmática.


Plain Aviation English; fluency; interaction; Corpus Linguistics; Pragmatics; Plain Aviation English; fluência; interação; Linguística de Corpus; Pragmática.

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