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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)/NATOPoliceWestern Union
AAlfa (Al Fah')AdamAdam
BBravo (Brah' Voh)BakerBoston
CCharlie (Char' Lee)CharlieChicago
DDelta (Dell' Tah)DavidDenver
EEcho (Eck' Oh)EdwardEasy
FFoxtrot (Foks' Trot)FrankFrank
GGulf (Golf)GeorgeGeorge
HHotel (Hoh' Tell)HenryHenry
IIndia (In' Dee Ah)IdaIda
JJuilette (Jew' Lee Ett)JohnJohn
KKilo (Key' Loh)KingKing
LLima (Lee' Mah)LincolnLincoln
MMike (Mike)MaryMary
NNovember (No Vem' Ber)NancyNew York
OOscar (Oss Cah')OttoOcean
PPapa (Pah' Pah)PeterPeter
QQuebec (Keh' Beck)QueenQueen
RRomeo (Row' Me Oh)RobertRoger
SSierra (See Air' Rah)SusanSugar
TTango (Tang' Go)ThomasThomas
UUniform (You Nee' Form)UnionUnion
VVictor (Vik Tah')VictorVictor
WWhiskey (Wiss' Key)WilliamWilliam
XX-ray (Ecks' Ray)X-RayX-Ray
YYankee (Yang' Key)YoungYoung
ZZulu (Zoo' Loo)ZebraZero
9Niner (Nyn' Er)  



Here is the mother lode of phonetic alphabet websites in dozens of languages


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