Being understood on the telephone:

This is the "international phonetic alphabet" as used in military radio communications and aviation in order to spell out words. (It is not, of course, a "phonetic alphabet" in the sense that a linguist would use.)

Older version (to WW II)Current version by International
Civil Aviation Organisation (1955)
ABLE NAN ALPHA NOVEMBER
BAKER OBOE BRAVO OSCAR
CHARLIE PETER CHARLIE PAPA
DOG QUEEN DELTA QUEBEC
EASY ROGER ECHO ROMEO
FOX SUGAR FOXTROT SIERRA
GEORGE TAPE GULF TANGO
HOW UNCLE HOTEL UNIFORM
ITEM VICTOR INDIA VICTOR
JIG WILLIAM JUNO WHISKEY
KING X-RAY KILO X-RAY
LOVE YOLK LIMA YANKEE
MIKE ZEBRA MIKE ZULU

There have been many other similar alphabets (see Brian Kelk's pages), and they exist for many languages, not just English. Most people, however, invent their own on the fly, often using proper names, J as in JIM, E as in EDWARD, etc.

Readers of Arthur Ransome's children's books will remember Uncle Jim's angry conversation with the telephone operator when he tries to alert the firefighters to a fell fire in Pigeon Post, "Fellside seven-five... No, not NINE, FIVE... F for FOOL, I for IDIOT, ..."

Another variant is my SILENT ALPHABET.

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Page created by John Higgins on 13 May 1998.