Today's Wiki Weekend link is the entry on NATO phonetic alphabet.
The NATO phonetic alphabet, more formally the international radiotelephony spelling alphabet, is the most widely used spelling alphabet. Though often called "phonetic alphabets", spelling alphabets have no connection to phonetic transcription systems like the International Phonetic Alphabet. Instead, the NATO alphabet assigns code words to the letters of the English alphabet acrophonically so that critical combinations of letters (and numbers) can be pronounced and understood by those who transmit and receive voice messages by radio or telephone regardless of their native language, especially when the safety of navigation or persons is essential. The paramount reason is to ensure intelligibility of voice signals over radio links.
My first professional exposure to the NATO phonetic alphabet was when I was working on a naval defense contract in the productions of combat control systems for submarines. This spelling alphabet is used sometimes in the code-naming of things. In my experience you'd see these names when Americans were talking about semi-secret enemy technology for which we did not know the real name. Example: the Mike class submarine, and a number of other subs in the Russian navy.
That's the first time I tried to memorize it. it's not that tough to memorize, although it's easier if you try to use it now and again.
It's very handy for use over the phone. If the person on the oater end is at least familiar with the concept (and most people catch on quick, even if they have never heard of such a thing) it beats the slow and laborious '"P' as in 'Pete'" method where, for every letter, you have to come up with a word on the fly that is easily distinguishable. "Excuse me, did you just say 'B' as in "Beet?'" The folks who came up with the NATO alphabet have thought of all that for you. These words are easy to distinguish on the hearing end, and that's the whole point.
There is always the danger that someone will just think you're trying to sound like the military when you use the NATO alphabet, but don't let that worry you. Standardizing on one spelling alphabet is good for communications.
comprising composing the phonetic alphabet are as follows:
Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Opera, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-Ray, Yankee, Zulu
I always have trouble remembering:
Golf, Juliet, Papa, Sierra, Yankee
The last, probably because I am a Red Sox fan.Posted by James at March 9, 2008 7:27 PM