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Measuring the familiarity and understandability of airport technical terms as used by airline staff members in Jordan

Measuring the familiarity and understandability of airport technical terms as used by airline staff members in Jordan

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Published by dtgorgis
The language of aviation comprises lots of acronyms, blends, codes, compounds, etc., that are used daily at work by airline staff members. This piece of research is an attempt to uncover facts and figures about this jargon used at airports. For the purpose of this study, the two researchers have devised two forms (see appendices 1 and 2) to measure the familiarity and understandability of airport technical terms as used by airline staff members at work. The sample which was filled in by employees from six departments showed that the employees of Flight Operations were the highest in terms of familiarity (93.75%) of both acronyms and blends and compounds; and use (68.75%) of acronyms and (75%) of blends and compounds. Employees of Administration Affairs were the least in familiarity (31.25%) of acronyms and (25%) of blends and compounds; and use (12.50%) of both acronyms and blends and compounds. The language used at the airport consists of different terms. Therefore, the register used at work in one department is somehow different from that used in another. This is because the domain of aviation is not a unified one. We divided it into sub-domains. The domain of language involves interaction between participants in "typical" setting (Holmes 1992). The whole matter depends on how employees (in all departments) are familiar with it and whether they use it at work

The language of aviation comprises lots of acronyms, blends, codes, compounds, etc., that are used daily at work by airline staff members. This piece of research is an attempt to uncover facts and figures about this jargon used at airports. For the purpose of this study, the two researchers have devised two forms (see appendices 1 and 2) to measure the familiarity and understandability of airport technical terms as used by airline staff members at work. The sample which was filled in by employees from six departments showed that the employees of Flight Operations were the highest in terms of familiarity (93.75%) of both acronyms and blends and compounds; and use (68.75%) of acronyms and (75%) of blends and compounds. Employees of Administration Affairs were the least in familiarity (31.25%) of acronyms and (25%) of blends and compounds; and use (12.50%) of both acronyms and blends and compounds. The language used at the airport consists of different terms. Therefore, the register used at work in one department is somehow different from that used in another. This is because the domain of aviation is not a unified one. We divided it into sub-domains. The domain of language involves interaction between participants in "typical" setting (Holmes 1992). The whole matter depends on how employees (in all departments) are familiar with it and whether they use it at work

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1
Measuring the familiarity and understandability of airport technical terms asused by airline staff members in Jordan.Dinha T. Gorgis & George HijazeenThe Hashemite University, Jordan
(1) 
Abstract:
The language of aviation comprises lots of acronyms, blends, codes, compounds, etc., that are useddaily at work by airline staff members. This piece of research is an attempt to uncover facts and figuresabout this jargon used at airports. For the purpose of this study, the two researchers have devised twoforms (see appendices 1 and 2) to measure the familiarity and understandability of airport technicalterms as used by airline staff members at work. The sample which was filled in by employees from sixdepartments showed that the employees of Flight Operations were the highest in terms of 
familiarity
 (93.75%) of both
acronyms
and
blends and compounds
; and
use
(68.75%) of 
acronyms
and (75%)
of blends and compounds
. Employees of Administration Affairs were the least in familiarity (31.25%) of 
acronyms
and (25%) of 
blends and 
compounds; and use (12.50%) of both
acronyms
and
blends and compounds
.
 
The language used at the airport consists of different terms. Therefore, the register used atwork in one department is somehow different from that used in another. This is because the domain of aviation is not a unified one. We divided it into sub-domains. The domain of language involvesinteraction between participants in "typical" setting (Holmes 1992). The whole matter depends on howemployees (in all departments) are familiar with it and whether they use it at work 
Introduction:
The language of aviation is one of the fields that has received less attention fromlinguists in general and ESP practitioners in particular. The aircraft manufacturingcompanies, outside the English-speaking world, print manuals or booklets in Englishaimed at most consumers in the world. Unfortunately, one can hardly find studiescarried out on the language of aviation in Jordan. Perhaps elsewhere, contributionsmade by writers in this field are not enough in comparison with other fields. However,some contributions have been made in this regard such as the study of Robertson(1988) on radiotelephony and of Beech (1990) on the language of in-flight cabinattendants.English is not completely standardized in the international world of the cabinattendant; for instance, the terms cabin attendant, luggage, film, cot, are British,whereas the American equivalents are flight attendant, baggage, movie, bassinet.Although American English is more dominant, especially in passenger handling, bothBritish and American terms should be studied to determine the lingua franca of thecabin crew (Beech 1990).Besides, specialists in the field of aviation in Jordan say that while the facts of flyingand pertinent technical terms used for that matter are already known to them, but theyare not to non-specialists and hence the need to implement them in universitycurricula as constituting an integral part of ESP. It is true that the majority of thesetechnical terms are known only to the specialist, yet a certain number of them in time become familiar to the layman and pass into general use (cf. Baugh and Cable 1978).The language of aviation comprises lots of new terms, word coinages, abbreviations,codes and acronyms. Such kind of language is used daily by airline staff members in
 
2their work at airports or in airline offices. Certainly, the study of language varieties isa wide area of investigation. For the purpose of this study, our discussion will bedelimited to varieties according to subject matter, which linguists refer to as register.This study is an attempt to introduce the language of aviation and uncover facts andfigures about it inside the airport. We hypothesize that this language is not uniquelyand systematically used or even understood by all employees. Therefore, theresearchers conducted a test to investigate the extent to which airline staff membersuse these terms in their daily work and whether they understand what they mean. Thestudy has included a selective set of different coinages.Pilots are excluded from the study because they are usually in the air or at home, inaddition to being well-aware of such kind of special vocabulary. Besides, pilotsreceive enough training periodically at training centers or at simulators (devices tosimulate flights), not to mention the courses and regular training they receive at air academies during their service.The sample subjects are (96) airline staff members who represent (6) in-servicedepartments, of which (16) each were asked to fill in a form. This form (see appendix)included different coinages comprising acronyms, blends, symbols, etc. used on daily basis at work. The sample included ranks: (35) clerks, (25) officers, (16) supervisors,(15) superintendents and (5) managers.
Results and Discussion
:
The two researchers have devised a special form for the sample. It included rank,experience, etc. for the purpose of this research, (see appendix 1).Most young employees are usually available at first counters. That's why more thanhalf of the random sample represents clerks and officers. Their experience extendsfrom one to five or seven years.Most managers are usually in their daily or monthly meetings. Their number is smallin comparison to other ranks. Supervisors and superintendents are the ones who reallycontrol the details of work on behalf of managers. Ten of the superintendents wereacting managers at the time the questionnaire was filled.Acronyms in the field of aviation can be classified into two parts. (i) “Simpleacronyms”, such as TWY (taxiway), RWY (runway), AWY (airway), etc. Acronymslike these are easily accessed by all employees. (ii) “Complex acronyms”, such asTORA (Take-off run available), IFR (Instrument Landing system), TCAS (traffic alertand collision avoidance system), etc, are not. Here, the employee finds some difficultyin recognizing what each letter of the acronym stands for. Even for the one who isfamiliar with such kind of acronyms finds some difficulty in remembering the details(ICAO 1983).
(2)
To reiterate, this piece of research is only an attempt to test the familiarity andunderstandability of airline terms used at work by airline staff members in Jordan.Tables of results are classified into Familiar/ Unfamiliar and Using/Un-using.
 
3
DPT. No. of Familiar Unfamiliar Using Un-usingStaff % % % %Operations
16 15 93.75 1 6.25 11 68.75 5 31.25
Maintenance
16 14 87.50 2 12.50 10 62.50 6 37.50
Cargo
16 10 62.50 6 37.50 7 43.75 9 56.25
In-flight
16 13 81.25 3 18.75 11 68.75 5 31.25
Reservation
16 11 68.75 5 31.25 6 37.50 10 62.50
Administration
16 5 31.25 11 68.75 2 12.50 14 87.50
Total
: 96 68 70.9 28 29.1 47 49 49 51
(Table 1)Frequency and distribution of acronyms
As illustrated in Table (1) above, many of the airline staff members were found to befamiliar with acronyms. The table shows that (70.9%) of the subjects understand theseacronyms. It also illustrates that (49%) of them use such terms regularly. Theimportant question here is: Are all departments supposed to know these terms andeven use them at work?Those who showed more familiarity with many acronyms are the ones who regularlyuse acronyms in their daily work at the airport. Specifically the
Operations
staff members showed high familiarity with acronyms (93.75%) but only (68.75%) usethem. Why is there a significant difference between familiarity and use? Aren'tacronyms used at this department? If not, why should these employees bother knowing them?Most of the work at
Operations
is technical. Employees use a jargon while performing their duty at the airport. This is, of course, due to the nature of their work that depends on many terms, among which are acronyms, especially in the twosections of 
 Aircraft Dispatch
and
 Route Planning 
. Their work requires familiaritywith navigation, radio aides, fuel calculations, weather forecast, etc. This is a must for each computerized flight plan for each departing or arriving aircraft. All operationsemployees are supposed to be familiar with this kind of jargon. In fact, they get usedto it by practice and through being given different extensive courses periodically, themain course of which is the
 Aircraft Dispatcher 
. Sometimes, they call the employeesin this department “semi pilot or pilot-like on ground”.However, some of the sections in this department are not so technical and are not indirect contact
 
with the core of the work. For example, at
 Roster 
section (where pilots'names are organized in daily and monthly lists for duty), the employees don't use lotsof these acronyms, although they know most of them. That's of course due toextensive courses they usually take with other employees at this department. Here,you might ask: Why should they take such courses if much of their work does not

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