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Fighting over WordsLanguage and Civil Law Cases$
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Roger W. Shuy

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195328837

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195328837.001.0001

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Toxic Gas in the Cockpit

Toxic Gas in the Cockpit

Pro Form and National Insurance Company v. The Garrett Corporation

(p.119) CHAPTER 11 Toxic Gas in the Cockpit
Fighting over Words

Roger W. Shuy (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The fatal crash of a private plane led to a lawsuit brought by the insurer against the manufacturer of the aircraft's engine. Investigators found no evidence of engine malfunction, so the insurer tried to place blame for the crash on the theory that the pilot was overcome by trimethylol propane phosphate (TMPP) gases leaking into the cockpit, causing him to have cognitive impairment such as disorientation, and to crash the plane, killing all aboard. No research exists concerning the effects of TMPP on humans, but because it is a GABA inhibitor that affects speech severely in diseases like Huntington's Disease, it seemed logical for the defense to analyze the recording of the pilot's speech from the time he departed until the time he crashed. The pilot's speech then was analyzed for syntax, word frequency, speech acts, pauses and pause fillers, pronunciation, and his use of the cooperative principle. No linguistic evidence of any type of aberration in the pilot's speech could be found in the recorded air-to-ground communications from the start of the flight to its fatal conclusion.

Keywords:   trimethylol propane phosphate, GABA inhibitor, syntax, word frequency, speech acts, pauses, pause fillers, pronunciation, cooperative principle

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