Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Learn the phonetic alphabet

The phonetic alphabet. Do any of you actually know it and if so why? Did you have a specific reason to learn it?


We've all been there. On the phone to a call centre trying to spell out a name or an address. M for... O for... I don't have a clue what half of them are. Most of the ones that I do know are from watching the tv series The Bill as a child. I loved that programme! I would race home for football practice - on Wepre school football pitch - every Wednesday evening when I was around 10 years of age to get home in the to tune in and watch the latest episode. That's how it worked back then, there was no catch up tv in the 90's. The best we had was video plus (remember that?).

But I think that learning it could come in handy. As long as the person on the other end of the phone knows that Sierra is spelt with an S haha. So I thought I'd give learning it a go and what better way to start than by seeing which ones I already know? So here goes:

Alpha
Beta (wrong)
C
Delta
E
Foxtrot
Golf
Hotel
Indigo (wrong)
J
K
Lia
M
N
O
Papa
Quattro
R
Sierra
Tango
U
Victor
Whiskey
X-ray
Y
Zulu

So it turns out that I know quite a few. More than half. Not a bad start? Here's the full list:

Alpha
Bravo
Charlie
Delta
Echo
Foxtrot
Golf
Hotel
India
Juliet
Kilo
Lima
Mike
November
Oscar
Papa
Quattro
Romeo
Sierra
Tango
Uniform
Victor
Whiskey
X-ray
Yankee
Zulu

So I'm going to have a go at practicing the ones I don't know and attempting to make all of them the first thing that I think of when attempting tot spell a word out one the phone. I mean. The phonetic alphabet is a bit weird! Even though I know that the correct code word for the letter S is Sierra, it's hardly the first thing that pops into my head when I'm asked to confirm that I'm dying the letter S. 

Who came up with the NATO Phonetic Alphabet? I'm guessing there is some scientific reasoning behind the seemingly VERY random choices of words?* But surely they could have thought of some words that were a little more fit for purpose? I mean I can learn the words as they are but what's the point if nobody else knows them? If everybody else continues to say M for mother or S for Sugar, then maybe I should too? It's not like I'm planning on working in a call centre or joining the police. So what's the point in me saying M for Mike and S for Sierra, if nobody else understands me?

Maybe we need a simpler version like (off the top of my head):

Apple
Banana
Cat 
Dog
Elephant
Football
Google
Happiness
Igloo
Jumper
Kangaroo
Lemon
Mother
North
Orange
people
Queen
Red
Sugar
Telephone
Umbrella
Venus
Weather
Xmas
Yummy mummy
Zebra

(It's funny how the brain works sometimes. Eg. Mother gets a look in but father is overlooked for the more important football - sorry Dad!)

My words are better right? 
But no! Although it might sound a little like I'm already talking myself out of learning the phonetic alphabet, I have decided to put in the (small) effort required to learn it. Maybe you should too? Then I'll have someone to use it with haha. And why not test me the next time that we see one another.

Hotel Alpha Papa Papa Yankee   November Echo Whiskey   Yankee Echo Alpha Romeo! 



*"The final choice of code words for the letters of the alphabet... was made after hundreds of thousands of comprehension tests involving 31 nationalities. The qualifying feature was the likelihood of a code word being understood in the context of others. For example, football has a higher chance of being understood then foxtrot in isolation, but foxtrot is superior in extended communication." (Apparently?)


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