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July 1, 2013

How do you spell that? "Delta Echo Foxtrot" makes it clear as day

Radiotelephony_Spelling_Alphabet_(1955)

There's a reason a standard set of 26 identifying words were selected to identify each letter of the alphabet.

Lives can hinge on getting them right.

Doesn't hurt to memorize and use them when you're on the phone spelling out your always misspelled name (Shirt, Spurt, Skirt — I could go on for a while with a pretty much endless litany of botched versions of my name, but I won't).

July 1, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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Brings back memories of being 13, with a friend over after school one day, and a golden hour before the parents got home from work - we were nosing around in their room, like you do, and found some little cards my father had with that alphabet on them, so we confiscated one and decided to write our own version. Needless to say, we had to make it as obscene as we knew how. Except for a couple of letters, I remember it vividly; a mixture of the filthy & the ridiculous:

Ass***e
Bull***t
C********r
Douche
E** *e
F***
Goiter
Hell
Intercourse
J*****f

And you get the idea.

Posted by: Flautist | Jul 2, 2013 10:19:21 AM

My dad taught me the phonetic alphabet when I was very young. Never forgot it and use it regularly to spell my awkward last name. Annoyingly many young customer service call centre staff don't know it and often don't have a clue what I'm talking about....

Posted by: jo | Jul 2, 2013 8:25:12 AM

Thanks, Joe. My son wants to get his pilot's license. I turned this into a pdf and made a nice copy of it for his wall. Score.

Posted by: tamra | Jul 2, 2013 12:09:29 AM

It's particularly helpful since it's very clear and has a ring of authority to it. I once had to read a very long web address to a guy over the phone that way and though maddening it actually worked... ("Hotel, Hotel, Tango, Poppa....").

Posted by: Scott | Jul 1, 2013 8:50:53 PM

I work with a lot of numbers & letters that have to be exchanged

over the phone. I wouldn't be without this chart if I

had not memorized it.

Posted by: joepeach | Jul 1, 2013 8:34:46 PM

My brother is funny. I once sent him such a list and he replied back with something along the lines of: "P" as in pneumonia, "A" as in aisle, "K" as in knowledge...

Posted by: Bubbub | Jul 1, 2013 1:50:25 PM

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