The ITU phonetic alphabet

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Conway Yee

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Jun 9, 1993, 3:17:27 PM6/9/93
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The rational behind a phonetic alphabet is to make the copying of letters
easier; on the air, many of the letters can sound alike. The use of identifying
words makes the differentiation much easier.

I have been told that the use of multi-syllable words also makes things easier
since if one syllable is missed, the rest of the word can identify the first
syllable. Thus, the redundancy in the English language is used to great
advantage.

Now for my question. What was the rational behind using the words Mike and
Golf for the letters M and G? A multisyllabic word would seem to me more
appropriate. In other phonetic alphabets, for instance, I recall the word
Greyhound for G.

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Julian Macassey

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Jun 9, 1993, 11:55:36 PM6/9/93
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In article <130...@netnews.upenn.edu> y...@mipg.upenn.edu (Conway Yee) writes:
>The rational behind a phonetic alphabet is to make the copying of letters
>easier; on the air, many of the letters can sound alike. The use of identifying
>words makes the differentiation much easier.
>
>I have been told that the use of multi-syllable words also makes things easier
>since if one syllable is missed, the rest of the word can identify the first
>syllable. Thus, the redundancy in the English language is used to great
>advantage.
>
>Now for my question. What was the rational behind using the words Mike and
>Golf for the letters M and G? A multisyllabic word would seem to me more
>appropriate. In other phonetic alphabets, for instance, I recall the word
>Greyhound for G.

The way I was taught it, back in the days when knowing and
using it was important, was that the words were chosen for their
"international" flavour.

So, anywhere in the world you will find people understand the
word "Golf", few understand "Greyhound". They race them in Britain
and the U.S. and the bus line by that name only runs in the U.S.

Think about it. Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot,
Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa,
Quebec, Victor, Whisky, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.

Of all of the above, the only one I know of that is not a word
common to many languagues and cultures is X-ray. Many countries use
other words for an X-ray such of Roentigen or radiogramma.

The fact that these words are so common is the best reason for
using them with non-native english speakers rather than phonetics from
WW-II or made up on the fly.

These phonetic set was first adopted by ICAO (International
Cival Aviation Organisation?), then NATO then the ITU. But still to
this day, many international phone operators do not know these
phonetics.

--
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Bob Levine

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Jun 10, 1993, 9:08:45 AM6/10/93
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>
> Now for my question. What was the rational behind using the words Mike and
> Golf for the letters M and G? A multisyllabic word would seem to me more
> appropriate. In other phonetic alphabets, for instance, I recall the word
> Greyhound for G.
>
>

I have found that Germany is much more effective for G.

Bob KD1GG

Tom Bodoh

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Jun 10, 1993, 10:42:05 AM6/10/93
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--
I frequently have to use phonetics when asking for tapes to be sent up from
our tape library - and I like to use 'psuedo' for 'p'. That usually
confuses the hell out of them - but I always get the right tape.

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Jack F. Hamilton

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Jun 10, 1993, 1:18:33 PM6/10/93
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jul...@bongo.tele.com (Julian Macassey) wrote:

> Think about it. Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot,
>Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa,
>Quebec, Victor, Whisky, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.
>
> Of all of the above, the only one I know of that is not a word
>common to many languagues and cultures is X-ray. Many countries use
>other words for an X-ray such of Roentigen or radiogramma.

Hotel may not be a good choice. The h is silent in French, and my vague
memory of a trip to Italy many years ago tells me that the word for hotel
doesn't even have an h in Italian. Quebec is pronounced with a k sound in
French. Whisky is pronounced with a v sound in many languages.

--

------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Post Office Box Box 281107 San Francisco, California 94128 USA

Jack F. Hamilton

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Jun 10, 1993, 3:35:10 PM6/10/93
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tbo...@resdgs1.er.usgs.gov (Tom Bodoh) wrote:

>I frequently have to use phonetics when asking for tapes to be sent up from
>our tape library - and I like to use 'psuedo' for 'p'. That usually
>confuses the hell out of them - but I always get the right tape.

"I'd like tape PKM, please - that's Pseudo Knowledge Mnemonic."

Conway Yee

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Jun 10, 1993, 3:38:08 PM6/10/93
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>Hotel may not be a good choice. The h is silent in French, and my vague
>memory of a trip to Italy many years ago tells me that the word for hotel
>doesn't even have an h in Italian. Quebec is pronounced with a k sound in
>French. Whisky is pronounced with a v sound in many languages.

I am not sure I can agree. The point remains that Whiskey is spelled with an
"w" in many languages. Some may pronounce it viskey while others might say
whiskeyl but both pronounciations are easily recognizable as the phonetic for
the letter "h". The same argument applies to Quebec and possibly Hotel.

The thing that I am curious about still remains. Multi-syllabic phonetics are
easier to transmit without error than mono-syllabic ones. Even allowing for
the fact that internationally well known words are to be used, certainly
there are better choices than Golf and Mike. With so many thousands of words,
certainly a multi-syllabic common word could be found.

Does anyone have more information on how the phonetic alphabet was chosen.
Somehow, I suspect it was in the offices of some bureaucrat somewhere (perhaps
named Michael) who randomly picked words out of clear blue sky.

David Hough

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Jun 10, 1993, 3:30:56 PM6/10/93
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In article <jfhC8F...@netcom.com> j...@netcom.com (Jack F. Hamilton) writes:
>
> Hotel may not be a good choice. The h is silent in French, and my vague
> memory of a trip to Italy many years ago tells me that the word for hotel
> doesn't even have an h in Italian. Quebec is pronounced with a k sound in
> French. Whisky is pronounced with a v sound in many languages.
>
Surely the point is that 'visky' and 'whisky' sound similar enough on-air,
and unlike anything else. 'Hotel' and 'Otel' sound similar enough as well.
After all, things like 'B' and 'D' might be confused if pronounced as
letters, but 'bravo' and 'delta' are definitely different.

You could always try an early British Army alphabet which had 'Emma' for
'M' !

Dave

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Randy Cole

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Jun 10, 1993, 6:09:03 PM6/10/93
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In article <130...@netnews.upenn.edu> y...@mipg.upenn.edu (Conway Yee) writes:
>From: y...@mipg.upenn.edu (Conway Yee)
>Subject: The ITU phonetic alphabet
>Date: 9 Jun 93 19:17:27 GMT

I would think that preference would be given to short words, to make
communications faster, even if they weren't as unmistakeable as
"supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" :-)

Randy KN6W

Tom Bodoh

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Jun 11, 1993, 9:08:17 AM6/11/93
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--
I like it - here's the ones I have so far, fill in the blanks;

a
b
c
d
e
f
g gnaw
h
i
j juan
k knowledge
l
m mnemonic
n
o
p pseudo
q
r
s
t
u
v
w
x xylophone
y
z

Bill Gunshannon

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Jun 10, 1993, 12:20:24 PM6/10/93
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In article <1v7bot$b...@jericho.mc.com>, lev...@mc.com (Bob Levine) writes:
|>
|> I have found that Germany is much more effective for G.
|>

And if I am a non-english speaker educated in a non-english speaking country
why would I assume that stood for "G" as opposed to "J"??

bill KB3YV

--
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bi...@cs.uofs.edu | said softly, "except one; the refusal to think."
University of Scranton |
Scranton, Pennsylvania | #include <std.disclaimer.h>

Bob Levine

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Jun 11, 1993, 3:21:26 PM6/11/93
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In article 13...@rsg1.er.usgs.gov, tbo...@resdgs1.er.usgs.gov (Tom Bodoh) writes:
> In article <jfhC8F...@netcom.com>, j...@netcom.com (Jack F. Hamilton) writes:
> |> tbo...@resdgs1.er.usgs.gov (Tom Bodoh) wrote:
> |>
> |> >I frequently have to use phonetics when asking for tapes to be sent up from
> |> >our tape library - and I like to use 'psuedo' for 'p'. That usually
> |> >confuses the hell out of them - but I always get the right tape.
> |>
> |> "I'd like tape PKM, please - that's Pseudo Knowledge Mnemonic."
> |>
> |> --
> |>
> |> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> |> Jack Hamilton j...@netcom.com kd6ttl@n0ary.#nocal.ca.us.na (AMPR)
> |> Post Office Box Box 281107 San Francisco, California 94128 USA
>
> --
> I like it - here's the ones I have so far, fill in the blanks;
>
> a-->Aesop

> b
> c
> d
> e
> f
> g gnaw
> h
> i
> j juan
> k knowledge
> l
> m mnemonic
> n
> o
> p pseudo
> q-->quay (pronounced key)
> r
> s
> t-->Tchaikovsky

Andrew M. Ross

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Jun 12, 1993, 4:17:49 PM6/12/93
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How about
o-> Oedipus
s-> Szilard

Dave Horsfall

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Jun 15, 1993, 2:21:19 AM6/15/93
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In article <1993Jun10.0...@bongo.tele.com>,
jul...@bongo.tele.com (Julian Macassey) writes:

| So, anywhere in the world you will find people understand the
| word "Golf", few understand "Greyhound". They race them in Britain
| and the U.S. and the bus line by that name only runs in the U.S.

Oi! Greyhounds (both the wheeled and the furry variety) run in
Australia as well, cobber!

--
Dave Horsfall (VK2KFU) VK2KFU @ VK2RWI.NSW.AUS.OC PGP 2.2
da...@esi.COM.AU ...munnari!esi.COM.AU!dave available

Jeff Shirton

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Jun 16, 1993, 11:12:00 PM6/16/93
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Tom Bodoh writes:

TB> I like it - here's the ones I have so far, fill in the blanks;

Anybody want to continue?

TB> a AESOP n
TB> b o OEDIPUS
TB> c p pseudo
TB> d q
TB> e EYE r
TB> f s
TB> g gnaw t TSAR
TB> h HONOUR u
TB> i v
TB> j juan w
TB> k knowledge x xylophone
TB> l y
TB> m mnemonic z

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/ /) /) .---------------------------------------------------------.
/ _ // // | Jeff Shirton | "Everyone with telekinetic |
(__/ _(/_//_//_ | jeff.s...@canrem.com | powers, raise my hand." |
/) /) | a820...@mcmaster.ca | -Emo Phillips |
VE3OJS (/ (/ `--------------------------------------------------------- '

* SLMR 2.1a * Jim! You don't ask The Almighty for His ID! -- Bones,STV

Bob Parnass, AJ9S

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Jun 17, 1993, 1:24:45 PM6/17/93
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Tom Bodoh writes:

TB> I like it - here's the ones I have so far, fill in the blanks;
Anybody want to continue?

TB> a AESOP n Ng
TB> b break o OEDIPUS
TB> c cease p pseudo


TB> d q
TB> e EYE r

TB> f s six


TB> g gnaw t TSAR

TB> h HONOUR u urn
TB> i ici v
TB> j juan w wring


TB> k knowledge x xylophone

TB> l y you
TB> m mnemonic z zero
--
==============================================================================
Copyright 1993, Bob Parnass, AJ9S
AT&T Bell Laboratories - par...@ih4gp.att.com - (708)979-5414

jcr...@kean.ucs.mun.ca

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Jun 17, 1993, 4:14:14 PM6/17/93
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In article <60.11731.47...@canrem.com>, jeff.s...@canrem.com (Jeff Shirton) writes:
> Tom Bodoh writes:
>
> TB> I like it - here's the ones I have so far, fill in the blanks;
>
> Anybody want to continue?
>
> TB> a AESOP nn
> TB> b o OEDIPUS
> TB> c city p pseudo
> TB> d q quay

> TB> e EYE r
> TB> f s
> TB> g gnaw t TSAR
> TB> h HONOUR uu
> TB> i v
> TB> j juan w whole
> TB> k knowledge x xylophone
> TB> l y yttrium

Brent Harsh

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Jun 17, 1993, 5:44:08 PM6/17/93
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Regarding the new phoenetics:

l - llama (properly pronounced "yama" in espanol)
c - czar (goes great with "tsar")


In article <60.11731.47...@canrem.com>, jeff.s...@canrem.com (Jeff Shirton) writes:

|> Tom Bodoh writes:
|>
|> TB> I like it - here's the ones I have so far, fill in the blanks;
|>
|> Anybody want to continue?
|>
|> TB> a AESOP n
|> TB> b o OEDIPUS

|> TB> c ** czar p pseudo


|> TB> d q
|> TB> e EYE r
|> TB> f s
|> TB> g gnaw t TSAR
|> TB> h HONOUR u
|> TB> i v
|> TB> j juan w
|> TB> k knowledge x xylophone

|> TB> l ** llama y

Joel B Levin

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Jun 18, 1993, 10:03:16 AM6/18/93
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Forgot one for "P":

|>|> TB> c ** czar p pseudo

Ptomaine

/J

Alan Wm Paeth

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Jun 18, 1993, 12:11:02 PM6/18/93
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>Anybody want to continue?
>
>TB> a AESOP n
>TB> b o OEDIPUS
>TB> c p pseudo


B - Bdellium

/Alan "Eye awl weighs ewes eh spelling chequer!" Paeth
VE3AWP/KD3XG
Computer Graphics Lab, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

David Adams

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Jun 18, 1993, 1:17:44 PM6/18/93
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the obvious one for "W" is "write" or "written" or "wrong".

---
David, N0WWN

--David C. Adams Statistician Cray Research Inc. dad...@cray.com
-Sourdough and Ham- - Minnesotans for Global Warming! -
(&gardner)


P.Bennett

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Jun 19, 1993, 3:15:00 AM6/19/93
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In article <1993Jun18....@hemlock.cray.com>, dad...@cray.com writes...

>the obvious one for "W" is "write" or "written" or "wrong".
>

I prefer "won" - then you can also use "one" and "juan"...

For "p", use "physics" or "psychiatry" or "pseudo", depending on context...

Peter Bennett VE7CEI | Vessels shall be deemed to be in sight
Internet: ben...@erich.triumf.ca | of one another only when one can be
Bitnet: bennett@triumfer | observed visually from the other
TRIUMF, Vancouver, B.C., Canada | ColRegs 3(k)

Lawrence *The Dreamer* Chen

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Jun 23, 1993, 1:00:10 PM6/23/93
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In article <1vr1ej$s...@chnews.intel.com> jbro...@sedona.intel.com (Jim Bromley, W5GYJ) writes:
>
>In article <1993Jun17.2...@bnr.ca> cnc...@bnr.ca (Brent Harsh) writes:
>>Regarding the new phoenetics:

>>
>> Anybody want to continue?
>
> TB> a AESOP n
> TB> b o OEDIPUS
> TB> c czar p pseudo
> TB> d djakarta q
> TB> e EYE r
> TB> f s scimitar

> TB> g gnaw t TSAR
> TB> h HONOUR u uitlander
> TB> i ixtacihuatl v

> TB> j juan w
> TB> k knowledge x xylophone
> TB> l llama y
> TB> m mnemonic z
>
>
I was talking to another amateur....and he commented that 'a' - alpha seems
to cause confusion (as delta). So, he prefers to use 'antenna' for 'a'.
How about one using other amateur related items?

A Antenna N
B O
C P
D Q
E R
F S
G T
H U
I V
J W
K X
L Y
M Z

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Bob Billson

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Jun 22, 1993, 3:51:55 PM6/22/93
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In <jfhC8F...@netcom.com>, j...@netcom.com (Jack F. Hamilton) says:

>tbo...@resdgs1.er.usgs.gov (Tom Bodoh) wrote:
>
>>I frequently have to use phonetics when asking for tapes to be sent up from
>>our tape library - and I like to use 'psuedo' for 'p'. That usually
>>confuses the hell out of them - but I always get the right tape.
>
>"I'd like tape PKM, please - that's Pseudo Knowledge Mnemonic."

"Name is 'Bob'...Bobo Oboe Bobo" :-)
--
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$nail: 21 Bates Way, Westfield, NJ 07090 | uucp: ...!uunet!kc2wz!bob

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