Phenomenal Phonetics

When placing an order over the phone today, I was surprised when the operator used countries and cities to confirm the spelling of certain words, rather than the NATO Phonetic Alphabet that I am used to. I have not come across this method before, and yet it was rather effective given that the operator’s first language was not English.

Spelling words over the phone can often be confusing, a phonetic alphabet helps to eliminate room for error and ensure that letters are clearly understood. The NATO Phonetic Alphabet is an internationally accepted and approved way of communicating over the phone and radio, and the current version has been in place since the 1950s.

Using a phonetic alphabet is very straight forward once you know the call letters and numbers, helping to avoid the misspelling of data and associated consequences. Memorising the NATO Phonetic Alphabet can be extremely useful for all sorts of situations, but even just having it printed by your phone is a great way to help make speaking the actual alphabet clear and simple.

Here is a quick reference guide to the NATO Phonetic Alphabet:

 

LETTER

A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M

CODE

Alfa
Bravo
Charlie
Delta
Echo
Foxtrot
Golf
Hotel
India
Julilett
Kilo
Lima
Mike

LETTER

N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z

CODE

November
Oscar
Papa
Quebec
Romeo
Sierra
Tango
Uniform
Victor
Whiskey
X-Ray
Yankee
Zulu

DIGIT

0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

CODE

Zero
Wun
Too
Tree
Fow-er
Fife
Six
Sev-en
Ait
Nin-er

 

 

 

When explaining spelling, do you use the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, or your own “game show” version?!