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Author Topic: Origin of International Radio/Military Alphabet?
Jessycat

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Icon 5 posted March 25, 2004 01:29      Profile for Jessycat     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've known the International Radio Alphabet since I was a little kid (my dad is a ham radio operator), but I don't remember ever learning WHY B is "Bravo" and F is "Foxtrot" and Z is "Zulu"...

I googled a bit but haven't had any luck. I'm sure it evolved over a period of time, but does anyone know any of the history?

73, Juliet Echo Sierra Sierra Yankee [Smile]

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littlefish
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Icon 1 posted March 25, 2004 03:02      Profile for littlefish   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm pretty sure it just happened so that each letter has a word, and none of the words sound the same, so people didn't say was that a 'c' or a 'd', or maybe an 'e', when spelling things out on the radio.
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littlefish
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Icon 1 posted March 25, 2004 03:09      Profile for littlefish   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
http://www.dynamoo.com/technical/phonetic.htm
http://www.raycomm.com/techwhirl/archives/9506/techwhirl-9506-00776.html
Found these from a quick google on phonetic alphabet, which is what I knew it as. More detailed googling with the same phrase might get you farther.

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Jessycat

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Icon 7 posted March 25, 2004 03:31      Profile for Jessycat     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ah thanks littlefish... "phonetic alphabet" is definitely turning up better matches than the phrases I had been entering before. This wikipedia article is very informative.

quote:
Originally posted by littlefish:
I'm pretty sure it just happened so that each letter has a word, and none of the words sound the same, so people didn't say was that a 'c' or a 'd', or maybe an 'e', when spelling things out on the radio.

I understand why a phonetic alphabet is useful, but was just wondering if there is a reason that "zulu" was chosen instead of, say, "zebra."

I'll keep looking. [crazy]

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Gibbonboy
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Icon 1 posted March 25, 2004 04:03      Profile for Gibbonboy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The current standard ITU (International Telecommunications Union) phonetic alphabet was standardized into its current form from other phonetic alphabets. It is meant to be understandable in several languages, so "zulu" is supposedly somehow easier to say, and be understood, than "zebra". Some countries use phonetics based on given names, such as Adam, Bob, etc.
Ham radio operators have a few of their own that they use. A common one is using "Kilowatt" for "K". It's just standardized to be able to understand it through static, without confusing one letter for another. Each phonetic should be unique sounding enough for it to be immediately recognized.
I think it's hilarious (and sometimes frustrating) to hear our officers on the radio more or less making up their own- "Uhh county, the tag is A, Aardvark, G, Gorilla, ummm, D, Delicious, 1234." And some people will just always have the "CB Lingo", which is the most annoying of all.

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted March 25, 2004 09:24      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think the phonetic alphabet is used because radio transmissions are incredibly crackly and it's very very easy to get screwed up, especially if you've got your siren going. This is why, believe it or not, it's easier to just RTFMap than ask your dispatcher for directions, even when the siren is going and your driver is hurtling down the road dodging cars right and left and screaming to know where the turn is.

That said, when I was on the ambulance we almost never used the alphabet simply because we had no reason to. We did not give names out on the air, and we did not need plate numbers for anything. In fact, we used almost no special codes at all - the county wanted us to stick to standard English.

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macmcseboy

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Icon 1 posted March 25, 2004 10:58      Profile for macmcseboy     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
As an Applecare Technician, I have to use Phonetic Alphabet in order to make sure that the poeple in Austin understand the serial numbers I read to them. I started using it as a Telemarketer when reading back postal codes to customers.... as a result everyone else in the room started using it. I started the trend and it still stands today, I still do this campagn and they now recomend it in the training session for newbies.

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David Rogers
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Icon 1 posted March 26, 2004 12:42      Profile for David Rogers     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
When I was in Boot Camp and later in Infantry training we learned that the choice of the words used to represent each letter were chosen because they were easily recognizable over a radio. These choices have evolved over the years so the phonetic alphabet used by a WWI vet might not be recognizable to those learning it today.

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David Rogers

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cassiec
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Icon 1 posted March 27, 2004 18:19      Profile for cassiec         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Was looking in Gideon Haigh's Uncyclopedia and found the phonetic alphabet that was used by the British Army in WW1:
"Ack, Beer, Charlie, Don, Edward, Freddie, Gee, Harry, Ink, Johnnie, King, London, Emma, Nuts, Oranges, Pip, Queen, Robert, Esses, Toc, Uncle, Vic, William, X-ray, Yorker, Zebra"
The book doesn't really go into origins of the very first Phonetic Alphabet but the one most commonly used form today ("Alpha, Bravo, Charlie...") was originally created for the use by NATO countries in 1956. Hope this helps.

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Jessycat

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Icon 1 posted March 27, 2004 22:22      Profile for Jessycat     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Just found this:

A ton of phonetic alphabets!

And a chart!

P.S. Welcome, cassiec! [thumbsup]

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