phonetic trivia

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    Jack, KK6MLA

    I was just searching some annotated. Lyrics and came across an interesting note on various phonetic terms used over the years for the alphabet. Hope you find it interesting.

    The Ables and the Bakers and the Cs

    Able and Baker are the first two words in the military communication alphabet, used to make spelling more intelligible over radio communications devices. So they are literally “ABC’s”. Here’s a table comparing the old and new standard phonetic alphabets. The new one is used by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency. (Note that “Delta,” from the song’s next bridge, is the only other easily identifiable alphabet letter.) NASA has posted a listing of the old (Pre-1954) and new alphabets.

    Old New Old New

    Military International Military International

    A Able Alfa N Nan November

    B Baker Bravo O Oboe Oscar

    C Charlie Charlie P Peter Papa

    D Dog Delta Q Queen Quebec

    E Easy Echo R Roger Romeo

    F Fox Foxtrot S Sugar Sierra

    G George Golf T Tare Tango

    H How Hotel U Uncle Uniform

    I Item India V Victor Victor

    J Jig Juliet W William Whiskey

    K King Kilo X X-ray X-ray

    L Love Lima Y Yoke Yankee

    M Mike Mike Z Zebra Zulu

    A Columbia University web site gives detailed info on phonetic alphabets. (Excerpted below)

    Interestingly, there are two streets in Palo Alto, Abel and Baker, named for unusual reasons, as you can read in the Palo Alto Historical Association’s web site. Note that the street name is spelled “Abel” as in “Cain and Abel,” but seems to have been named for the military alphabet nonetheless.

    Able and Baker were also the names of two pioneering animal astronauts.

    Here is an edited version of the resource which can be found at the Columbia University site, which gives quite a number of such alphabets:

    Subject: Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta: phonetic alphabets (revised)

    Date: 21 Apr 1995 19:41:24 GMT

    Phonetic Alphabets (Alpha Bravo etc)

    There is a widely known alphabet Alpha Bravo … Yankee Zulu.

    Such alphabets are variously known as phonetic alphabets,

    radio alphabets and spelling alphabets. This collection

    currently includes alphabets for the following languages:

    English, French, German, Dutch, Flemish, Spanish,

    Italian, Rumantsch, Slovak, Polish, Hungarian,

    Croatian, Turkish, Swedish, Finnish, Russian,

    Chinese and Esperanto.

    This posting supersedes the one of 10th March. There are numerous

    changes and additions.

    Some of the more recent new material:

    Spanish 21 Apr 95

    Turkish 10 Mar 95

    Croatian 24 Jan 95

    Russian (Anna Boris) 15 Dec 94

    Esperanto 17 Nov 94

    My thanks to the many contributors, not all of whom are acknowledged


    I can make no guarantee of accuracy of this information; indeed

    please send me any corrections or additions.

    In my capacity as the editor of this collection I have no objection

    to the further electronic distribution of this posting in full in

    circumstances where it is likely to be of interest.

    Comments in square brackets are my own.

    Brian Kelk

    21 April 1995

    ***** ENGLISH *****

    The NATO phonetic alphabet (as per the Cambridge Encyclopedia

    of Language under Seaspeak):

    Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta Echo Foxtrot Golf Hotel India

    Juliet Kilo Lima Mike November Oscar Papa Quebec Romeo

    Sierra Tango Uniform Victor Whiskey Xray Yankee Zulu

    [The same alphabet, modulo Alfa and Juliett, is approved by

    the International Civil Aviation Organization and the FAA.

    The International Telecommunication Union Phonetics list

    has: Alfa, Juliette, Oscar/Oskar, Victor/Viktor.

    Dates from about 1956.

    UK police use Indigo(?) instead of India.

    See also

    Telecom B:

    Alfred Benjamin Charles David Edward Frederick George Harry

    Isaac Jack King London Mary Nellie Oliver Peter Queen Robert

    Samuel Tommy Uncle Victor William Xray Yellow Zebra

    [Found also in Swedish, Dutch, Hungarian telephone directories.

    A Swiss directory has: Andrew Charlie Lussy Queenie Sugar.

    French/German vocabulary books: Andrew Charlie Lucy Mike

    Nelly Sugar Xmas]

    British A:

    Amsterdam Baltimore Casablanca Denmark Edison Florida

    Gallipoli Havana Italia Jerusalem Kilogramme Liverpool

    Madagascar New_York Oslo Paris Quebec Roma Santiago Tripoli

    Uppsala Valencia Washington Xantippe Yokohama Zurich

    [An ‘international’ alphabet in a Dutch telephone directory

    has: Danemark. A ‘French’ alphabet in a Hungarian directory

    has: Cassablanka Danemark Que’bec Upsala Zu”rich.

    An ‘international’ alphabet in a business book for French

    has: Italy Kilogram Zu”rich; the corresponding book for

    German has: Italy Kilogram Xanthippe Zu”rich]

    Used by police in New York City:

    Adam Boy Charlie David Edward Frank George Henry Ida John

    King Lincoln Mary Nora Ocean Peter Queen Robert Sam Tom

    Union Victor William X-ray Young Zebra

    [Variants: Eddie Larry Nancy Thomas Yankee Yellow]

    Used by police in Nassau County, Long Island, New York:

    Adam Boston Chicago Denver Edward Frank George Henry Ida

    John King Lincoln Mary Nancy Ocean Peter Queen Robert Sam

    Thomas Union Victor William X-ray Young Zebra

    Used by police in San Diego, California:

    Adam Boy Charles David Edward Frank George Henry Ida John

    King Lincoln Mary Nora Ocean Paul Queen Robert Sam Tom Unit

    Victor William Xray Yellow Zebra

    Used by police in Hutchinson, Kansas:

    Adam Boy Charles David Edward Frank George Henry Ida John

    King Lincoln Mary Nora Ocean Paul Q.. Robert Sam Tom Union

    Victor William X-ray Yankee Zebra

    Sometimes used by radio hams (unofficial):

    America Boston Canada Denmark England France Germany

    Honolulu India Japan Kilowatt London Mexico Norway Ontario

    or Ocean Pacific Quebec Radio Santiago or Spain Tokyo United

    Victoria Washington Xray Yokohama Zanzibar

    [Much variation: Amsterdam, Brazil, Baltimore, Chile,

    Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Hawaii, Italy, Kentucky,

    Luxembourg, Nicaragua, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Texas,

    Uruguay, Venezuela, Whisky, Zulu]

    The ARRL (American Radio Relay League) alphabet (1948):

    Adam Baker Charlie David Edward Frank George Henry Ida John

    king Lewis Mary Nancy Otto Peter queen Robert Susan Thomas

    union Victor William x-ray young zebra

    [Nowadays the ARRL endorses the NATO/ICAO alphabet]

    Pre-1954 U.S. Navy Radio Alphabet

    (Communications Handbook, 1945)

    Able Baker Charlie Dog Easy Fox George How Item Jig King

    Love Mike Nan Oboe Peter Queen Roger Sugar Tare Uncle Victor

    William X-ray Yoke Zebra

    “Used by Armed services of USA & GB” (ARRL Handbook, 1945)

    Able Baker … Easy … Tare …

    Allied Services 1945:

    Able Baker … Edward … Tape …

    >From a book entitled “The Complete Morse Instructor…” (1944):

    Able Baker … Easy … Tare …

    [See also

    In other alphabets of the Able Baker class: affirm, cast,

    hypo, inter, negat, option, over, prep]

    Western Union:

    Adams Boston Chicago Denver Easy Frank George Henry Ida John

    King Lincoln Mary New_York Ocean Peter Queen Roger Sugar

    Thomas Union Victor William X-ray Young Zero

    British Army 1927:

    Ack Beer Charlie Don Edward Freddy George Harry Ink Johnnie

    King London Monkey Nuts Orange Pip Queen Robert Sugar Toc

    Uncle Vic William X-ray Yorker Zebra

    Royal Navy 1917:

    Apples Butter Charlie Duff Edward Freddy George Harry Ink

    Johnnie King London Monkey Nuts Orange Pudding Queenie

    Robert Sugar Tommy Uncle Vinegar Willie Xerxes Yellow Zebra

    U.S. Army 1916:

    Able Buy Cast Dock Easy Fox George Have Item Jig King Love

    Mike Nap Opal Pup Quack Rush Sail Tape Unit Vice Watch X-ray

    Yoke Zed

    Neil, W6VG

    That’s fun, Jack. Thanks for posting. My dad’s call sign before W6VG was W6CBE, so I grew up hearing Charlie Baker Easy.

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