The page www.aero-lingo.com went online on 24th March 2007 to help me write a Masters thesis ( Magisterarbeit ), but is under construction since then. Its name, aero-lingo, stands for "the specific and codified language of air traffic control" ( aero- = "of air or aircraft" and lingo = "jargon"). Its main purpose is to provide information on erroneous English communication within aviation from a linguistic point of view. Apart from that, it is also supposed to help advanced learners of English improve and maintain their language proficiency with the background of worldwide language testing in aviation. Ultimately, it is meant to serve as a platform from which both linguists and people dedicated to aviation safety (e.g. pilots, controllers, designers of language tests for the latter groups, accident investigators, officials of airlines and flight agencies) might benefit. Though the approach is a linguistic one other disciplines like technical engineering (e.g. contingencies of radio technology), psychology (e.g. cognitive science), legislation (e.g. the regulations of national air law containing information on "how to communicate"), play a decisive role in gaining new knowledge for further analysis.
Summary of the idea under Konrad Lorenz'quotation
Konrad Lorenz, the famous Austrian ethologist and Nobel Prize – winner, formulated the introductory quotation during his studies of the behaviour of grey geese.
Spoken is not yet heard;
Heard is not yet understood;
Understood is not yet agreed;
Agreed is not yet applied;
And applied is not yet always applied.
How does Konrad Lorenz' quotation fit into the context of aviation?
One possible answer: the quotation shows the interdisciplinary efforts that have been made and are still going on in order to make English aeronautical communication more efficient. In detail, line one, “spoken is not yet heard”, concerns technical problems with the radio transmitter, the solution of which remains to technical engineers but also to linguists and psychologists dealing with acoustic phonetics. Line two, “heard is not yet understood”, is about those ambiguities that appear in linguistic fields such as phonology, lexis, syntax, semantics and pragmatics that prevent a phrase from being understood. Here, cognitive linguistics and applied linguistics have the task both to detect problematic areas within communication and to prevent misunderstandings from happen. Line three says “understood is not yet agreed”, and refers to those communicative pragmatic strategies for showing compliance with instructions, predominately readbacks. These deliberations can be labelled as socio-linguistic ones. The fourth line, namely “agreed is not yet applied”, contains contingencies that can happen in every flight, such as unforeseen meteorological conditions and everything else hindering the practical execution of ATC instructions. It is the task of practical pilot training to prepare in dealing with these things. The last line, “applied is not yet always applied”, can be contextualised with the fact that adherence to standardised procedures and English phraseology is indispensable for flight safety, which should be guaranteed by suitable company policies of airlines enforced by the law of each ICAO state. All in all, the quotation of the famous ethologist transferred into the context of aeronautical communication, shows that the development of Aeronautical English/ Aviation English is a real interdisciplinary task since it demands the collective efforts of linguists, psychologists, cognitive scientists, and aviation specialists. To fit into the context of aviation Konrad Lorenz' quotation might be reformulated as follows:
Sent is not yet received;
Received is not yet perceived;
Perceived is not yet read back;
Read back is not yet complied with;
And complied with is not yet internationally accepted.
On the whole, the fate of grey geese is indirectly, via Konrad Lorenz, connected to other flying species, the human beings.