English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Dictating e-mail/website addresses each one letter by one on a phone call is always challenging for me. I found that listeners often misspell certain letters like B/D/V because the pronunciation is distorted.

With a list of 26 words that represent each alphabet letter, if any, communications are going to be easier:

I: R-A-N-D-O-M-A-L-P-H-B-E-T.

Listener: (Simultaneously) R-A-N-D-O-M-A-L-P-H... wait. D or B?

I: It's B. B of 'black'.

'Black' is a quick example of my own but seems good enough because 'black' is simple, easy, and there's no word such as "vlack", "dlack", "glack", etc.

I'd love the list of words like 'black' if there is already one in common use.

share|improve this question
up vote 17 down vote accepted

What you are describing is called a phonetic alphabet.

There are a number of common phonetic alphabets used in the English language.

One of the most popular ones is the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) alphabet, commonly called the NATO phonetic alphabet. See https://wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO_phonetic_alphabet for a complete reference.

share|improve this answer
2  
I should improve my Google-fu skills. Thank you! – Suzi Mar 18 at 6:54
    
You're welcome. If you didn't know to look for a phonetic alphabet it would have been a challenge to find what you were seeking! :-) – RockPaperLizard Mar 18 at 8:53
1  
And even if you did you would also find the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), which is a system of special letters corresponding to various sounds in human languages, and completely unrelated to what you're looking for. – January First-of-May Mar 18 at 16:12
    
@JanuaryFirst-of-May raises a good point; sometimes, a distinction is made between phonetic alphabets like the IPA and spelling alphabets like the international radiotelephony spelling alphabet (the "NATO phonetic alphabet"). – wchargin Mar 18 at 23:37

Here's what I found, (phonetic alphabet) a bit blurry but you can zoom in or click the link below:

enter image description here

Source: http://morsecode.scphillips.com/alphabet.html

share|improve this answer
1  
TIL Q = Quebec. – Tom Hart Mar 18 at 16:39
    
Kinda surprised the NYPD uses “Queen” for Q when Queens must be a common thing to hear on their radios. – KRyan Mar 19 at 1:27

There are established lists of words that stand for the first letter of the alphabet, if that is what you are wondering about. NATO uses, Alpha, Bravo Charlie.

Speakers of American English unfamiliar with this system (which is probably 95% of speakers) usually just make up a word on the spur of the moment, like "M as in Mary" or "D as in doorknob", whatever the speaker thinks will provide clarity.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.