Phonetic alphabet

Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
Do you know one or more, and do you ever use them?

I had an idea that Germans tended to use their version more often than anglophones used either the NATO alphabet or any of the myriad of others, because I'd met some who did, but a German teacher of English I know says she doesn't know or use it. Which made me realise that all those I'd heard using it were male, so perhaps they learnt it doing military service.
 

Terry S.

Quaestor
Staff member
I need to use bits of the IPA for understanding the pronunciation of other Irish dialects. I'll probably end up relying on it more as I age.
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
Sorry, should have been clearer. I was thinking of the things like the Alpha, Bravo, Charlie etc. systems primarily designed to reduce ambiguity in oral communication, often by radio. Strangely addictive. I don't know if they exist in other languages apart from English and German.
 

Godmy

Sīmia Illūstris
But, in TV shows where you are supposed to pick a letter and get a question where the answer is starting with that letter, the competitors often are required to say something along these lines: G as in "grandmother" or F as in "film" and so on (the word choice is entirely up to them). Rarely, this is used also elsewhere when somebody is unable to understand the sound (usually over a phone).
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
I know a few bits and pieces from the NATO alphabet and a few from the German one ... although I wouldn't know all of the letters off the top of my head (e.g. I wouldn't know what Q is right now - in either one).

My mother knows the German one pretty well, I think, because she phones a lot.
 

Iohannes Aurum

Technicus Auxiliarius
I know a few bits and pieces from the NATO alphabet and a few from the German one ... although I wouldn't know all of the letters off the top of my head (e.g. I wouldn't know what Q is right now - in either one).

My mother knows the German one pretty well, I think, because she phones a lot.
In the NATO alphabet, Q is for a certain francophone Canadian province.
Quebec (and pronounced kay-beck)
 

Terry S.

Quaestor
Staff member
I feel your pain... I was once ordering wrist bands and wanted fluorescent colours. Girl on phone said they didn't do that, and that they only do plain colours and glow-in-the-dark colours...
 

scrabulista

Consul
Staff member
Etaoin's is an infinite loop.
 

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
...I often wondered about the Alpha, Bravo, Charlie stuff in American movies, I thought it must be some military code...
This system, properly called "the IRSA" (International Radiotelephone Spelling Alphabet) was created for reconnaissance patrols to accurately call for artillery barrages or airstrikes on specific targets. The system has precise pronunciations for numbers as well as The phonetic names for the letters: "eight" must be pronounced as "aait", and "nine" as "niner". The fact that some pairings of letters in the English alphabet have names which can sound virtually identical over a radio transmission, "c" and "z", for instance, can introduce a potentially dangerous ambiguity to the calling in for artillery or airstrikes. Use of the IRSA removes much of this precise ambiguity, so that recon soldiers do not call in airstrikes on friendly positions such as, say, a field hospital or a friendly forward operations base. For example, regarding grid position CT197: the radio statement "see tee one nine seven" can possibly be heard (over a radio transmission, and sometimes in the din of combat) back at the TOC (tactical operations command post) as grid position "zee dee one five seven" (ZD157), upon which position a field hospital or civilian town might be destroyed by the subsequent airstrike; the recon call as "charlie tango one niner seven" removes much of the potential ambiguity.
 

Serenus

Civis Illustris
When I call to a business's customer service, representatives from India seem to always know it. It's convenient that way, when giving either names or product model/serial codes.
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
Initially perhaps surprisingly, foreigners living in the UK with a poor command of English often know bits of the phonetic alphabet. This is because there are several letters in a UK postcode, and if you know the number of your house and the postcode, this is usually sufficient for your address to be found when you have to give it to someone. Unfortunately, they only know those letters that are in their postcode; when asked to spell anything else, they freelance. If their accent is thick, it is not always easy to work out what word they're saying, which somewhat defeats the point of having a phonetic alphabet.
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
I have just learnt of the military use of One Delta Ten Tango, and shall be adopting it forthwith. Apparently it's so well-known that there is even a beer with that name. I feel terribly ignorant.
 

Terry S.

Quaestor
Staff member
Googled it. Good to know.
 
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