Talk and gaze home position in the Airline Cockpit

385This paper considers the embodied nature of discourse for a professional work setting. It examines language in interaction in the airline cockpit, and specifically how shifts in pilots’ eye gaze direction can indicate the action of talk, that is, what talk is doing and its relative contribution to work-in- progress. Looking towards the other pilot’s face treats talk as occurring outside the predictable and scripted sequential flow of interaction for work. The talk might be casual conversation unre- lated to work tasks, or involve negotiation of work arising from locally contingent circumstances. Pilots treat particular sites for looking, cockpit instrument panels and windows, as a home position for gaze for planned and predictable work activity. Looking away from this home position, as either speaker or recipient, treats talk as doing something else.

The paper draws on insights and methods of conversation analysis, and uses naturally occurring data, video recordings of pilots at work on actual scheduled passenger flights.

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Talk and gaze home position in the Airline Cockpit

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