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Do you know your second-language spelling alphabets?

P1110511Enjoying a leisurely walk along The Esplanade in Weymouth last month, I came across these pedalos with phonetic ‘names’. Naturally, being a translator, my first thought was, what are the French and German phonetic alphabets? And how useful would they have been on placement when I was trying to write down phone messages and names! Why weren’t we taught them??…so back in the office, I looked them up and thought I would share them here. Might frame them like my ALT codes for quick and easy access too.

Although called the ‘NATO phonetic alphabet’, it’s actually a ‘spelling’ alphabet and not the same as the International Phonetic Alphabet (http://www.internationalphoneticalphabet.org/ipa-sounds/ipa-chart-with-sounds/). This spelling alphabet was introduced by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in the 1950s to aid communication by telephone or radio by assigning code words to letters that could be understood regardless of language barrier and possible transmission static.

Interesting fact: Alfa and Juliett are not spelled incorrectly, they are ‘non-English spellings’. As non-native speakers of English may not pronounce the ph of Alpha correctly, an f is used; likewise there is a second t on Juliett because French users may leave the single t silent.

Letter English France Germany
A Alfa Anatole Anton
Ä Ärger
B Bravo Berthe Berta
C Charlie Célestin Cesär
Ch Charlotte
D Delta Désiré Dora
E Echo Eugèn Emil
F Foxtrot François Friedrich
G Golf Gaston Gustav
H Hotel Henri Heinrich
I India Irma Ida
J Hotel Joseph Julius
K Kilo Kléber Kaufmann
L Lima Louis Ludwig
M Mike Marcel Martha
N November Nicolas Nordpol
O Oscar Oscar Otto
Ö Ökonom
P Papa Pierre Paula
Q Quebec Quintal Quelle
R Romeo Raoul Richard
S Sierra Suzanne Siegfried
Sch Schule
ß Eszett
T Tango Thérèse Theodor
U Uniform Ursule Ulrich
Ü Übermut
V Victor Victor Viktor
W Whiskey William Wilhelm
X X-ray Xavier Xanthippe
Y Yankee Yvonne Ypsilon
Z Zulu Zoé Zepplin

 Austria and Switzerland have a slightly different code to the Germany one. These can be found online for example at: http://german.about.com/library/blfunkabc.htm. France’s is also not standardised and the variations can be found at https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:French_phonetic_alphabet.

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October 6, 2015

The tatty sheet of paper stuck on my wall for checking French and German ALT codes got even tattier when I had my office redecorated earlier this year. I didn’t want to put it back up again because a) it was torn and b) it wasn’t really fit for purpose because I had to get up and unpin it every time I wanted to look at it…no, I had to reinvent the wheel! So now the codes are kept pristine in some cheerful frames within reaching distance. Much more ‘shabby chic’ then just plain ‘shabby’.

2015-09-23 15.17.50


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