In the movie Avatar: The Way of the Water, a pair of phrases occurs that I seek clarification:

Father: [... rebukes son, along the lines "I expect you to behave well"]... Do you read me?

Son: Lima Charlie!

This does not sound like every-day English. What sort of language is this? Military? Can you give an explanation what each of the two phrases mean exactly and if and when they are used in daily use?

[I am interested in the details, as I actually know the meaning from the context and the dubbed version of the film.]

1 Answer 1


They were using the NATO phonetic alphabet, as used by military, emergency services & aircraft across the world. This uses words for letters to prevent confusion. Lima Charlie is "LC".
LC itself is used by the American military as radio code for 'Loud and Clear', meaning 'message received and understood'.

From 7 Phrases You’ll Want To Keep Using After The Military

  1. Lima Charlie

Lima Charlie is typically used over the radio to denote that a message has been received. In the civilian world, this abbreviation can be used to affirm that you’ve heard something and understand. Whether you employ it sarcastically or seriously, this is one phrase that you can hold on to when something comes over “loud and clear” in your everyday life.

To 'read' is to hear. I don't know the origin of the term, but it's so long established from movies and TV going back decades that it is used in 'radio speak'.
'Do you read me?' is 'Can you hear me?'

  • And, of course Do you read me? is used in a similar context for 'Have you got the message?' Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 8:09
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    You could use them with people who have lived or worked in those areas. Most people wouldn't understand it without it being explained to then. Note also the Lima Charlie I think is exclusively American. As a Brit I'd never heard it before, but guessed from context LC would be loud & clear & went searching from there. 'Do you read?' is more well-known, but still should be kept for 'radio speak' rather than direct conversation. Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 8:21
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    When I was involved with amateur radio and short-wave listening, we used a number code, called the R-S-T system. Readability-Signal-Tone. The last referred to the tone quality of a Morse signal, so a voice channel would be given just an R-S two digit rating, i.e. 1 to 5 for readability, and 1 to 5 for signal strength. 'I'm reading you five by five (or five-five)' means the same as 'LC' or 'loud and clear'. Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 8:58
  • The number code I mentioned above originated around 1934. and is still in use. Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 10:43

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