Spelling alphabet

Spelling alphabet

A spelling alphabet, radio alphabet, or telephone alphabet is a set of words which are used to stand for the letters of an alphabet. Each word in the spelling alphabet typically replaces the name of the letter with which it starts (acrophony). It is used to spell out words when speaking to someone not able to see the speaker, meaning there are no visual cues which assist the listener. Giving one's name over the telephone is a common scenario where a spelling alphabet is often used. Spelling alphabets are often called phonetic alphabets. These are not to be confused with phonetic transcription systems, such as the International Phonetic Alphabet, which are designed to record detailed information about the sounds of human speech.


Voice procedure

Spelling alphabets are especially useful when speaking in a noisy environment when clarity and promptness of communication is essential, for example during two-way radio communication between an aircraft pilot and air traffic control, or in military operations. Whereas the names of many letters sound alike, the set of replacement words can be selected to be as distinct from each other as possible, to minimise the likelihood of ambiguity or mistaking one letter for another. For example, if a burst of static cuts off the start of an English-language utterance of the letter J, it may be mistaken for A or K. In the international radiotelephony spelling alphabet known as the IACO or NATO phonetic alphabet, the sequence J-A-K would be pronounced Juliet-Alpha-Kilo. Some voice procedure standards require numbers to be spelled out digit by digit, so some spelling alphabets replace confusable digit names with more distinct alternatives; for example, the NATO alphabet has "niner" for 9 to distinguish it better from 5 and the German word "nein".


As early as the 19th century, British Army signallers used a partial spelling alphabet. First recorded in 1904[1] this system at first differentiated only letters most frequently misunderstood: Ack Beer (or Bar) C D E F G H I J K L Emma N O Pip Q R Esses Toc U Vic W X Y Z. This alphabet was the origin of phrases such as "ack-ack" (A.A. for anti-aircraft), "pip-emma" for pm and Toc H for Talbot House. It was developed on the Western Front of the First World War and later formally codified to provide a phonetic equivalent for all 26 letters (see comparative tabulation of military alphabets before 1956).

For the general populace, and finance professionals in particular, entries such as "November" for the letter N and "Kilo" for the letter K were considered too long or obscure, and an alternative alphabet arose. Common first names were a popular choice, and as a result the First Name Alphabet, first compiled by the financial firm JSC[citation needed], has become quite commonly used.


The following examples are from various languages and time periods:[2][3].

Letter NATO & Aviation US Financial British Forces 1952 RAF 1942–43 LAPD French German (DIN 5009) Dutch Italian Spanish Swedish Danish/Norwegian Finnish Turkish Portuguese
A Alpha Adam Able Apple Adam Anatole Anton Anna Ancona Antonio Adam Alfa Aarne Aydın Avião
B Bravo Bob Baker Beer Boy Berthe Berta Bernard Bologna Barcelona Bertil Bravo Bertta Bekir Bola
C Charlie Carol Charlie Charlie Charles Célestin Cäsar Cornelis Como Carmen Caesar Charlie Celsius Cemal Casa
Ch - - - - - - Charlotte - - Chocolate - - - - -
D Delta David Dog Dog David Désiré Dora Dirk Domodossola Dolores David Delta Daavid Deniz Dado
E Echo Eddie Easy Edward Edward Eugène Emil Eduard Empoli Enrique Erik Echo Eemeli Engin Elefante
F Foxtrot Frank Fox Freddy Frank François Friedrich Ferdinand Firenze Francia Filip Foxtrot Faarao Fener Faca
G Golf George George George George Gaston Gustav Gerard Genova Gerona Gustav Golf Gideon Gazi Gato
H Hotel Harry How Harry Henry Henri Heinrich Hendrik Hotel Historia Helge Hotel Heikki Halat Homem
I India Ike Item In Ida Irma Ida Izaak Imola Inés Ivar India Iivari İstif Igreja
J Juliet Jim Jig Jug / Johnny John Joseph Julius Julius I lunga[4] José Johan Juliet Jussi Jale Jacaré
K Kilo Kenny King King King Kléber Kaufmann Karel Kappa Kilo Kalle Kilo Kalle Kilo Kilo
L Lima Larry Love Love Lincoln Louis Ludwig Lodewijk Livorno Lorenzo Ludvig Lima Lauri Liman Laranja
Ll - - - - - - - - - Llobregat - - - - -
M Mike Mary Mike Mother Mary Marcel Martha Maria Milano Madrid Martin Mike Matti Merih Maria
N November Nancy Nan Nuts Nora Nicolas Nordpol Nico Napoli Napoli Niklas Niklas Niilo Neptün Navio
Ñ - - - - - - - - - Ñoño - - - - -
O Oscar Oliver Oboe Orange Ocean Oscar Otto Otto Otranto Oviedo Olof Oscar Otto Oruç Ovo
P Papa Peter Peter Peter Paul Pierre Paula Pieter Padova París Petter Papa Pekka Pilot Pato
Q Quebec Quincy Queen Queen Queen Quintal Quelle Quotiënt Quadro Querido Quintus Quebec Kuu[4] - Queijo
R Romeo Roger Roger Roger / Robert Robert Raoul Richard Rudolf Roma Ramón Rudolf Romeo Risto Roket Rato
S Sierra Sam Sugar Sugar Sam Suzanne Samuel Simon Savona Sábado Sigurd Sierra Sakari Süngü Sapo
Sch - - - - - - Schule - - - - - - - -
ß - - - - - - Eszett[4] - - - - - - - -
T Tango Thomas Tare Tommy Tom Thérèse Theodor Teunis Torino Tarragona Tore Tango Tyyne Türk Tatu
U Uniform Uncle Uncle Uncle Union Ursule Ulrich Utrecht Udine Ulises Urban Uniform Urho Ulu Uva
Ü - - - - - - Übermut - - - Übel - - - -
V Victor Vincent Victor Vic Victor Victor Viktor Victor Venezia Valencia Viktor Victor Vihtori Vatan Vaca
W Whiskey William William William William William Wilhelm Willem Washington Washington Wilhelm Whiskey Wiski - Whisky
X X-ray Xavier X-ray X-ray X-ray Xavier Xanthippe Xanthippe Ics[4], Xeres Xiquena Xerxes X-ray Äksä[4] - Xícara
IJ - - - - - - - IJmuiden - - - - - - -
Y Yankee Yogi Yoke Yoke / Yorker Yellow Yvonne Ypsilon[4] Ypsilon[4] York, yacht Yegua Yngve Yankee Yrjö Yavuz York
Z Zulu Zachary Zebra Zebra Zebra Zoé Zacharias Zaandam Zara Zaragoza Zäta[4] Zulu Tseta[4] Zeybek Zebra
Æ - - - - - - - - - - - Ægir/Ærlig - - -
Ø - - - - - - - - - - - Ødis/Ørnulf/Østen - - -
Å - - - - - - - - - - Åke Åse/Ågot Åke - -
Ä - - - - - - Ärger - - - Ärlig - Äiti - -
Ö - - - - - - Ökonom - - - Östen - Öljy - -


The Greek spelling alphabet is a spelling alphabet (or "phonetic alphabet") for Greek, i.e. a set of names given to the alphabet letters for the purpose of spelling out words. It is used by the Greek army, the navy and the police.

See also Russian spelling alphabet.


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  2. ^ "The International Phonetic Alphabet for Radio Communications". Communications Specialists. http://www.comm-spec.com/phonetic-alphabet.php. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  3. ^ tr:Fonetik abece tablosu
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i This is simply the ordinary name of the letter.

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