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Aviation And The English Language  
User currently offlineMCOtoATL From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 474 posts, RR: 4
Posted (12 years 11 hours ago) and read 3307 times:

I am a bit hesitant to post this - with all that's going on in the world I hope we don't get wrapped up in nationalism as we respond or read this question.

Why is it that seemingly most carriers that are not based in English-speaking countries still use English in their livery? Airlines like Emirates (which has one of the classiest looking liveries in the world) to China Southwestern Airlines have their airlines name in English. Many of these carriers do not even serve English-speaking markets. Granted, from what I hear, most non-Americans, for example, speak better English than many U.S. high schoolers, so does the worldwide popularity of the language have anything to do with this?

By the way, I would post several examples, but I don't know how to put pictures into the body of this. Sorry about that.

10 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineBackfire From Germany, joined Oct 2006, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (12 years 11 hours ago) and read 3285 times:

While English is not spoken by the most people, it is the most internationally-spoken language in the world - and therefore you're most likely to get your message across if you use it in an international business.

User currently offlineFutureFO From Ireland, joined Oct 2001, 3132 posts, RR: 20
Reply 2, posted (12 years 10 hours ago) and read 3271 times:

Also in order to be a pilot any where in the world you must speak English as all ATC facilities use it as the primary language.

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User currently offlineDeltaMD11 From United States of America, joined Dec 2002, 1703 posts, RR: 32
Reply 3, posted (12 years 10 hours ago) and read 3239 times:

I agree with both of those reasons stated above. It is mainly because English is truly a universal language. You can go darn few places in the world today and not find at least one person that you can effectively communicate with using English. The language that is spoken by the most people, Mandarin Chinese, is very centralized and not used much outside of it's little area. That has to do with a huge population and skyrocketing birth rate in a small focalized geographic locality.


Too often we ... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. - John Fitzgerald Kennedy
User currently offlineContinental From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5529 posts, RR: 17
Reply 4, posted (12 years 10 hours ago) and read 3204 times:

It is a universal language. In remote areas I think it's spoken in native like in Siberia.

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User currently offlineSabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (12 years 10 hours ago) and read 3200 times:

I was amazed when I was listening to the ATC during a jumpseat flight from OPO to DUS, when we overflew France I heard 90 % French and only 10 % English.


User currently offlineBackfire From Germany, joined Oct 2006, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (12 years 8 hours ago) and read 3158 times:

There's a lot of confusion about the use of English in commercial aviation.

Basic ICAO guidelines on use of English are included in Annex 1 and Annex 10.

However, Annex 10 only recommends - it doesn't insist - that ATC communication be conducted in the language of the ground controllers, or in English if requested by the aircraft crew.

In addition Annex 1 (which includes controller licensing criteria) only states that the selected language should be spoken “without accent or impediment” – but this is not quantified. There are also no ICAO language proficiency requirements for pilots.

Experts within ICAO are now trying to include an amendment to the Annex to strengthen the provision for English to be made available for communication. This amendment will change the Annex 10 "recommended" status to that of an ICAO Standard (but will not rule out use of a second language if there is agreement between controller and pilot).

These amendments would also set a minimum level of language proficiency which would be required for controllers and pilots involved in international flight operations.

User currently offlineElwood64151 From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 2477 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (12 years 7 hours ago) and read 3123 times:

A big part of the reason that English is known throughout the world, and used, is because English speaking countries have basically dominated the planet economically, militarily, and diplomatically, for the past 250 years. Before English, it was French. Before that, Italian (many of Shakespear's plays have Italian words or roots to them). Before that, Latin and Occitan (an old, obscure language who's origins I'm unfamiliar with).

However, English has been the only one to be known throughout the entire world. The languages previous to it were basically spoken only in the West. English has become our universal toungue. Not because it was forced upon anyone, but because it is so much easier to do business with the US/Britain, and by extension, anyone else in Europe/North America, if you know how to speak English.

Also, because American military forces were sent to literally every corner of the globe during WWII to defeat the Axis Powers (Imperial Japan, NAZI Germany, Facist Italy) that people from small villages to large cities learned how to speak English so that they could sell food and other products to the Americans and their British/Canadian/Australian counterparts. English is the language of economics.

Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
User currently offlineParisien From France, joined Dec 2000, 833 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (12 years 6 hours ago) and read 3103 times:

yes, there was a debate here whether they should require french airline pilots to communicate in English with controllers in french airports or maybe just paris airports. This supposedly increases safety as other non french pilots could also listen in and know whats going on. There was resistance to that and I think they are now back to French.
I could see the argument for english language use especially in international airports such as CDG and ORY. But what happens if the english of the pilot is not very good...doesnt this create a problem too ? I have been in several carriers with pilots giving their announcement in very hard to understand english ! Nothing to do but close my eyes, think of the queen, and hope for the best.

User currently offlineShaun3000 From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 445 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (12 years 6 hours ago) and read 3093 times:

There are standardized words and phrases you are supposed to use. That solves the problem of bad English. So long as you learn the standardized words, you should be fine under normal circumstances.

User currently offlineElwood64151 From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 2477 posts, RR: 5
Reply 10, posted (12 years 1 hour ago) and read 3047 times:


Nothing to do but close my eyes, think of the queen, and hope for the best.

Are you French or English? Your nick says French, your statement says Brit.


Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
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