view from plane window
As I understand it, air traffic control operations are conducted either in English or in the local language, making good English a required skill for international pilots. It always worries me, then, when a pilot’s accent is so strong that his announcements are incomprehensible.

I worry, too, about cabin crew language skills, but it’s rather more important that the plane take off and land safely than that the travellers get served the right items from the on-board buffet. After all, there are safety instruction cards with pictures, so perhaps it doesn’t really matter if, for example, the steward seems to think we’ll be landing at Disneyland Airport as long as the pilot knows he’s going to East Midlands.

Spanish-speaking crew always mangle English pronunciation even for phrases they use on every flight.

When I flew with Iberia recently, the pilot made an announcement welcoming us all aboard and extending a special welcome to “members of the oneworld alliance and friggin’ flyers.” Or maybe it was freakin’ flyers.

I’m a fairly frequent flyer, but his pronunciation freaked me out.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

2 thoughts on “iberianismos”

  1. I guess it’s very much the same the other way around with British trying to speak Spanish fir business. The only peculiarity is that air traffic control is a language by itself as you perceive it differently over the radio communications system. These systems don’t transmit all the frequencies and to make matters worse our listening ability is different between individuals, some people don’t listen to certain frequencies even if they have perfectly standard hearing. If you add that some Spanish take English as a punishment and not a skill for life (not unlike many other learning discipline), then you have quite a good picture of what is happening. Image is ever so important nowadays…


    1. English speakers are notoriously bad at learning languages and tend to congratulate themselves on English being the lingua franca of international trade, the internet, etc. In fact, I fear this may put native speakers at a linguistic disadvantage: certainly I’ve seen Spanish and French, German, Japanese… speak “English” to each other while I’ve stood by uncomprehending.


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