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Phonetic Alphabets

Phonetic alphabets were established in order to remove the ambiguity of letter and number pronunciation. Because of the similarities in the sounds of some characters, and the accompanying potential for misinterpretation, common words that begin with each letter of the alphabet were assigned to represent each of the letters.

Aviators use the International (ITO/NATO) version, while law enforcement agencies tend to use the Police version. Many people not constrained to a particular version of the phonetic alphabet tend to use anything that comes to mind. Is is not unusual to hear people on the phone trying to spell a word by using ad hoc words to represent each letter - many times with equally ambiguous examples like "w" as in "who" - which of course when listening to the word "who," does not necessarily make clear that it is meant to represent the letter "w."

This phonetic alphabet table lists those used by the aviation industry (International ITU / NATO) and the police. I'm not sure how much the Western Union version is used any more.

  International (ITU)/NATO Police Western Union
A Alfa (Al Fah') Adam Adam
B Bravo (Brah' Voh) Baker Boston
C Charlie (Char' Lee) Charlie Chicago
D Delta (Dell' Tah) David Denver
E Echo (Eck' Oh) Edward Easy
F Foxtrot (Foks' Trot) Frank Frank
G Gulf (Golf) George George
H Hotel (Hoh' Tell) Henry Henry
I India (In' Dee Ah) Ida Ida
J Juilette (Jew' Lee Ett) John John
K Kilo (Key' Loh) King King
L Lima (Lee' Mah) Lincoln Lincoln
M Mike (Mike) Mary Mary
N November (No Vem' Ber) Nancy New York
O Oscar (Oss Cah') Otto Ocean
P Papa (Pah' Pah) Peter Peter
Q Quebec (Keh' Beck) Queen Queen
R Romeo (Row' Me Oh) Robert Roger
S Sierra (See Air' Rah) Susan Sugar
T Tango (Tang' Go) Thomas Thomas
U Uniform (You Nee' Form) Union Union
V Victor (Vik Tah') Victor Victor
W Whiskey (Wiss' Key) William William
X X-ray (Ecks' Ray) X-Ray X-Ray
Y Yankee (Yang' Key) Young Young
Z Zulu (Zoo' Loo) Zebra Zero
9 Niner (Nyn' Er)    



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