University Of Tasmania
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Maritime communication in an international and intercultural discourse

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posted on 2023-05-27, 17:18 authored by Schriever, UG
The international maritime industry consists of a global web of shipping that covers the oceans and connects all continents on the earth. It brings together seafarers from a multitude of national, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. The English language has emerged as the lingua franca of the sea. By consensus - and, indeed, by UN resolution - it is the most common means through which communication takes place wherever language barriers exist. This thesis explores the views mariners have on a common language and the English language in that role. It tries to identify non-English speaking background (NESB) people who appear to have greater difficulties in communicating in the tongue, and it investigates the possible existence of cultural, religious, ideological or political reasons for an aversion to English. It also makes an attempt to determine the usefulness of a standard coded language as in the Standard Maritime Communication Phrases (SMCP) and seeks to gain information about incidents in which misunderstanding played a part. It further tries to elicit statements from seafarers about English language proficiency among their colleagues in the industry and about a skill level to be attained by different ranks. The research was carried out using a qualitative and a quantitative approach. Twelve interviews with seafarers and marine pilots were conducted and 132 questionnaires received from members of 17 different nationalities. In addition, four case studies were examined and an observation by the author on a recent voyage from Singapore to Australia was described. The result of the investigation shows the overwhelming acceptance of English as the common means of communication, reveals several language groups which are perceived as hard to communicate with using maritime English, and finds some evidence of a resistance to the language. It also shows that the SMCP is not used to its full potential and that misunderstandings due to verbal and cultural barriers are still firmly in place. The present level of English proficiency is widely considered as wanting, and officers in particular were expected to reach a more advanced level of competence in the language.


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Copyright 2008 the author Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2009. Includes bibliographical references

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