There is a standardized phraseology used in aviation radio communications. It is based on English, but it is significantly different, and many of the statements are not grammatically correct in standard English.

This answer by Aviation SE user Ralph J includes a few examples that show the distinction, such as these:

Center, Callsign123 request 10 degrees right for weather.

"Center" is the controller's call sign, and "Callsign123" is the aircraft's. This is from the pilot of Callsign123 asking Center for permission to turn right 10 degrees to avoid adverse weather. It's not too hard to understand, but it's not grammatically correct. It can be expanded fairly easily:

Center, [this is] Callsign123 request[ing permission to turn] 10 degrees [to the] right for weather.

Here's a possible response, also from Ralph J's post:

Callsign123, unable right deviations due to military airspace, fly heading 010 and advise when able direct to Tulsa.

Again, it's not too hard to understand, but it's certainly not standard English.

Callsign123, [we are] unable [to allow] right deviations due to military airspace, fly heading 010 and advise when [you are] able [to fly] direct to Tulsa.

What are restricted communication systems based on natural languages, such as aviation communications? (Plain language is also used in aeronautical communications, but for the purpose of this question, I'm specifically asking about the phraseology that does not follow normal English grammar but is considered correct for aeronautical use.)

Is this a constructed dialect of English? A constructed language based on English? Something else?

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    @Lambie How is this not a linguistics question? And what does Googling for a glossary of such term have to do with the question? Nobody is asking about the words themselves or what they mean. The question is what terminology linguists use to refer to language variants like this sort of aviation-talk. Dec 30, 2023 at 18:31
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    @Lambie is there a word that linguists use to refer to sets of standardized terminology that are based on, but deviate from, a natural language? That's what I'm asking, and it's about linguistics, not aviation. There are examples of this outside aviation: "CQ twenty, CQ twenty, CQ CQ CQ, this is kilo alpha one x-ray yankee zulu calling CQ on 14.321 megahertz, this is KA1XYZ calling CQ and standing by" isn't standard English either.
    – Someone
    Dec 30, 2023 at 19:13
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    @Lambie No, this goes beyond terminology or jargon, see my answer. Dec 30, 2023 at 19:22
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    @Lambie I don't see how it's relevant whether or not the people who created it are linguists? That wouldn't preclude the existence of a specific term for such "languages."
    – Someone
    Dec 31, 2023 at 0:49
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    @Lambie yes, many are just sets of standardized terms, but Aviation English is more than this because the grammar is also substantially different. "Callsign123, unable right deviations due to military airspace, fly heading 010 and advise when able direct to Tulsa" not only uses specialized terminology; it also does not follow normal English grammar.
    – Someone
    Dec 31, 2023 at 18:40

2 Answers 2


The general term for this kind of language is Controlled Language or Controlled Natural Language. Aviation English, the standard phraseology that pilots and air traffic controllers use, is one example of a controlled language.

There is also the term English for specific purposes that comes from the language teaching community.

  • But linguists do not have a word for that. What you have posted are merely technical domains of language. English for specific purposes is taken by teachers and taught. It is not a word used by linguists to study those technical areas.
    – Lambie
    Dec 30, 2023 at 19:25
  • Another area for this is: lexicography
    – Lambie
    Dec 30, 2023 at 19:32
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    I am employed at a department that was once named Applied linguistics and we definitely use the term "Controlled language" and we use this in our curriculum. Dec 30, 2023 at 19:32
  • I am not saying that controlled language doesn't exist. I am saying that it is not a term per se used by linguists to study the language in a technical field. It is a post-facto term.
    – Lambie
    Dec 30, 2023 at 19:34
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    @Lambie "controlled language" is a term for something related to linguistics, and it appears that linguists do use it, so that seems to make it a valid answer to the question?
    – Someone
    Dec 31, 2023 at 0:50

I would call it a sublanguage:

the language of a restricted domain, particularly a technical domain.

It is of course controlled as well, as it would defeat the purpose of having a restricted subset of English when it was allowed to change arbitrarily.

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