Pomorski fakultet Kotor, 22.03.2020

Nova objava - 22.03.2020 19:19




English  has already become a world language, due to political and economic progress made by the Great Britain. English is used in more than 60 countries as the official language and it takes a prominent place in more than 20 others. It either domineers or has a secure position on all six continents. English is the main language of publishing, journalism, international business and academic conferences, science, technology, medicine,  and advertising.


The number of native speakers of English now reaches around 300 million; another 300 million use English as the  second language; and also 100 million speak it fluently as a foreign language. Some more radical assessments, which also take into account the speakers at a lower level of language fluency and knowledge show that the total number of speakers nowadays exceeds one billion.


The aim of this paper is to point out the  role of English for specific purposes and its importance for the development of modern society 


Although English has already been recognized as an international language both on land and at sea, it is necessary to be followed by clear rules in order to reduce the possibility of ambiguity  while sending and receiving messages. In contrast to the everyday communication in which one statement performs a lot of different functions depending on the context, Maritime English is precise and far more limited than everyday language. This linguistic limitation is the key presumption for effective communication in the maritime profession.


For successful transmission of messages and communication in the maritime affairs until nowadays have appeared several variants of maritime English, in linguistics known as ​​restricted languages​​. British linguist J.R. Firth introduced this term as a label for strictly reduced linguistic system that is used for a particular activity. This language is so contextually closed, that only a little linguistic variation is allowed. Such "languages"   can be found not only in specialized but also in everyday contexts.

Maritime English is a specific register. Therefore, it requires a specific treatment. The sophisticated system of the maritime English makes it a plain instrument of communication.

The opposite “tides” govern the system: creative and economical tendency. The creative side of the maritime language is evident in the forming of new words and meanings, combining of existing units, various metaphors, etc. Thus, limitation of linguistic units accompanied by linguistic unlimited creativity allows linguistic functionality, respectively the ability of language to respond to all challenges of civilization, man and society. With its creativity language transcends all boundaries and is ready to respond to any new accomplishment or invention of the modern age.


Maritime English is a restricted language which is characterized by a great many specific features on all levels. These particularities are the most obvious on the lexical level, for it implies maritime terms. This level is also under the greatest influence of the non-linguistic factors.

  However, we cannot make artificial borders between Maritime and General English. These two registers intertwine.

We can conclude language

The needs and profile of our seafarers who are now sailing around the world have changed as well as the overall structure of the maritime industry. When it comes to teaching English, the easiest way is to stick to the old-fashioned methods because they are "most effective" for teachers who feel secure in familiar territory and do not want to change anything in their work with future seafarers. Maybe their classes are under control and predictable but a completely different atmosphere prevails at sea, i.e. on board a ship. There are people, without their families, left to the sea and to their knowledge of "the trade".


Any error is paid dearly – from technical to language ones. The consequence is too mild word for what can follow an error or a mistake in the communication ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore or the navigational bridge - engine room [4, 5]. Material loss is not worth mentioning in comparison to one human life. Multinationality of ship’s crews requires one common internationally recognized language, which is followed by certain rules of communication. English became the world's, and thus the maritime language number one, not because of its linguistic qualities, but due to the economic and military superiority of the United Kingdom. The race for that position was long lost for Spanish and Italian even for German language.

As it has already been mentioned, maritime English should be precise, and we can never  overestimate the importance of the accuracy in the register of maritime profession. Standardization is essential for  ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communication. It can even be concluded that safety of lives at sea primarily depends on that standardization. In other words, successful communication in the field of maritime transport is impossible without the use of standardized marine communication phrases, which were introduced by the IMO organization in 2001 [4, 5]. Communication in  both maritime and air transport is unthinkable without standardization of these registers.


In achieving its primary task - and that is communication in such a complex phenomenon as the society is - no language, regardless of its standardization, is homogeneous. It is not realized as a single entity, but with non-linguistic influences it is stratified into linguistic layers,  which  are difficult to separate - as the transitions are continuous.   Therefore, all speech variations are the layers of a unique system - language. That the language is not homogeneous and that is very creative, the proof lies in every individual who in his speaking knowledge has a number of speech variations that are often used unconsciously, depending on non-linguistic impacts, i.e. situation. There is a sociolinguistic term for this substitution of speech variations -  code switching. There are several classifications of language layers. We can meet terms such as style, variant, type, dialect, sociolect, idiolect.

Functional layers occur by functional stratification, respectively speech variations characterized by specific choice of linguistic resources, their frequency, and they are determined by situation as non-linguistic category. The situation in which the language is realized, includes the function, the type and the domain of activity, place and time, the theme and participants in communication.


The peculiarity of professional language is its vocabulary. In addition to the terminology, it contains parts of the general lexicon. Vocabulary is the most powerful communicative barrier for a layman, who recognizes professional language by a large number of unknown words.

It is important to emphasize that the lexicon of general and professional language has been mutually enriching, because there is a mutual interference between general and professional language,.


 English for seafarers is an instrument of communication which they use not only for the performance of professional activities, but also in everyday contacts. It has a long-term goal for its users. Among other maritime languages ​​(Spanish, Italian, French and Russian), it is a means of international communication at sea, considering the spread of its use. It has developed on a large scale, as an instrument of communication - from everyday communication, written and oral information, documentation, to scientific presentations.

Unlike English, our maritime language has no role in the global maritime communication. Its function is limited to local area use. Due to its specific development, our maritime language sould be the subject of study  to both linguists and maritime experts. The characteristic of our maritime language is borrowing from other languages ​​(in earlier centuries, especially from Italian, and more recently from  English) and fighting for local expressions. In addition to that, present language of our seamen is based on lexical heritage of the whole Adriatic coast, which gives it a diversity unjustifiably little attention is paid to our maritime language. Each seafarer should have a good knowledge of both  mother tongue and maritime English, so that the safety is not threatened by language defficiency.

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