Must you use the NATO alphabet?

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NewSDScanner

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On radio at work and scanning I'm used to the law enforcement phonetic alphabet (Adam, Boy, Charlie, David, etc...). When I become a ham do I absolutely HAVE to use the NATO alphabet or could I use the one that I'm used to when calling out my call-sign and etc...?
 

joen7xxx

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You don't have to but remember this is an international service and folks outside the US are used to the international phonetics, as are the military folks who are in MARS. I find that I have to stop and think if someone uses anything but the international phonetics, but that's just me. What I do hate hate the "cute" phonetics. Have fun!
Joe
 

krokus

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There is no legal requirement for the standard phonetics, but the three law enforcement phonetics are only common to a specific agency.
 

Keith_W7KEW

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On radio at work and scanning I'm used to the law enforcement phonetic alphabet (Adam, Boy, Charlie, David, etc...). When I become a ham do I absolutely HAVE to use the NATO alphabet or could I use the one that I'm used to when calling out my call-sign and etc...?
If you are talking to other english speakers on ham radio then using other phonetics is usually fine. But once you start talking DX that are non-english speakers they usually are self trained to use the international recoginized phonetic alphabet.
 

LtDoc

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The only reason for using phonetics is to make understanding what was said easier. Using a 'standard' phonetic alphabet just means that the phonetics are usually going to be familiar with most of the people using them. There's no law saying you absolutely have to use any particular phonetics, but if doing so makes things easier for you/them, why not?
those 'cute' phonetics aren't for everyone! They do mean that I tend to remember them and associate them with particular people/situations. They are a memory aid for me. I use them for call signs, may not actually say them, but that doesn't mean I don't think them, you know? You have to be careful using those 'cute' phonetics, some can be offensive (but you remember them, right?).
- 'Doc
 

W2NJS

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Actually, I believe that the "alpha, bravo, charlie" phonetic alphabet is/was first published by the ICAO and not NATO. ICAO is the International Civil Aviation Association. Fact is that making up your own phonetics, especially when working DX, does nothing but confuse the listener in most cases by using words that the listener is not expecting to hear. Also, most PS organizations these days have switched to ICAO from the old APCO "adam, baker, charlie, frank" set of phonetics.
 
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WouffHong

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A real advantage of the alpha-bravo... system

Actually, I believe that the "alpha, bravo, charlie" phonetic alphabet is/was first published by the ICAO and not NATO. ICAO is the International Civil Aviation Association. Fact is that making up your own phonetics, especially when working DX, does nothing but confuse the listener in most cases by using words that the listener is not expecting to hear. Also, most PS organizations these days have switched to ICAO from the old APCO "adam, baker, charlie, frank" set of phonetics.
One of the endearing qualities, and recognized pretty widely, is use of the 'Alpha", Bravo, Charlie... established system is that in MOST cases, you only need to hear the first or last syllable to know which letter is being presented. a good thing when communications are flaky. :D

Wouff
 

W9BU

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In spite of recommendations from just about everyone that the standard ICAO phonetics should be used, especially when working DX, I routinely hear experienced HF operators using "germany" for G, "japan" for J, and "sugar" for S, etc.

When experienced hams start following their own recommendations, it will be a lot easier to convince new hams to use ICAO phonetics. I'm not pointing a finger at anybody here, but the next time you hear an experienced DXer or contester using non-standard phonetics, ask them why.
 

W2NJS

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Well, it's a free country (still, I think) and anyone can use any phonetics they like, but I've read that for pure "understandability" (if that's a word) the ICAO alphabet works best. As far as why DX'ers prefer to use "London, America, Sugar" I have absolutely no idea except that they perhaps learned to do so from hearing others do it, which of course is their choice.
 

OCO

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Is it now standard to call using the phonetic version of a callsign without first just stating the call? During Hurricane Irene, listening to the NHC Skywarn net, it seemed much harder to catch a callsign when the phonetic was used without plain callsign first.
 

texasemt13

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It's common to hear non-standard phonetics in pile-ups also (to make themselves stand out). I find it very childish in some cases and won't answer them.
 

k8tmk

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As stated earlier, there is no requirement to use NATO or an other "standard" phonetic alphabet.

It all depends upon your viewpoint. On one hand, you have the ICAO alphabet, and on the other hand you have the APCO alphabet. People in both of these fields insist that their alphabet is the only correct standard.

There are some out their who I refer to as "Phonetic Phanatics" who insist you use a specific standard alphabet "because people in other parts of the world may not be familair with some of the words we use instead.

One day while tuning across the ham bands, I heard a Russian ham using the phonetics "Four Wheel Drive" for the last part of his callsign. I no longer worry about any so-called standard! By the way, I've been a licensed ham for 50 years.

Randy (Radio Amateurs Never Die Young)
 

LtDoc

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Another reason for not using the standard phonetics is that for some of us, some of the words are 'harder' to say. One of those harder to say words for me is 'sierra', I typically use 'sugar' instead. That's just one of those foibles, and in most cases, not really a 'biggy'. Oh well, no one's perfect..
- 'Doc
 

kc4jgc

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In spite of recommendations from just about everyone that the standard ICAO phonetics should be used, especially when working DX, I routinely hear experienced HF operators using "germany" for G, "japan" for J, and "sugar" for S, etc.....
.... and Y "Yokohama"....

Phonetically, I always sign "kilo charlie 4 juliet golf charlie" (ICAO standard phonetic). .... HOWEVER... when a station cannot copy the suffix (always get the kilo charlie 4 but not the suffix for some reason) after 2 or 3 tries I'll switch to "Japan Germany Canada", the other station copies it first try almost every time. Odd the way that works .

w2njs said:
As far as why DX'ers prefer to use "London, America, Sugar" I have absolutely no idea except that they perhaps learned to do so from hearing others do it, which of course is their choice.
That's my theory... No big deal in everyday use but during an emergency situation it is especially important to use the ICAO alphabit IMO.
 

Token

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.... and Y "Yokohama"....

Phonetically, I always sign "kilo charlie 4 juliet golf charlie" (ICAO standard phonetic). .... HOWEVER... when a station cannot copy the suffix (always get the kilo charlie 4 but not the suffix for some reason) after 2 or 3 tries I'll switch to "Japan Germany Canada", the other station copies it first try almost every time. Odd the way that works .
I find pretty much the same thing. I try to use the ICAO standard most of the time, but on my voice memories I have my call saved both ways, so I can throw out whichever way I want if the other is not working. I find that "Japan, London, Denmark" is recognized at least as often as "Juliet, Lima, Delta" and in some cases is more easily recognized. One memory for calling CQ has both methods used.

T!
 
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majoco

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I know it's called the International Phonetic Alphabet, but I'm not sure that it was originated by NATO or ICAO - I'm reasonably confident that it came from the ITU in the first place.

....and if anyone expects me to answer a call of "Germany Italy Kilowatt" they're out of luck :roll:
 

Token

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I know it's called the International Phonetic Alphabet, but I'm not sure that it was originated by NATO or ICAO - I'm reasonably confident that it came from the ITU in the first place.

....and if anyone expects me to answer a call of "Germany Italy Kilowatt" they're out of luck :roll:
ICAO adopted it (the current ICAO/NATO/ITU phonetic alphabet) in 1956 and the ITU adopted it with slight differences in 1958 (sources vary a bit on the years, but most agree ICAO adopted significantly before ITU, it was before I was interested in radio so I have no firsthand knowledge). In fact, what is in use today is almost universally the ICAO/NATO version, not the "true" ITU version. The letters are the same in both but the numbers are different in the ITU as originally accepted, for example in the ITU "one" is "unaone" and "two" is "bissotwo". Many (most?) references, even from ITU sources, have dropped the odd numbers when talkking about the ITU phonetics.

Interesting on the not liking other phonetics, because before World War II as a standard and in limited use until the 1960's a different phonetic alphabet was in use by English speaking nations, for example "Italy" (or maybe it was "Italia") was in use in place of the current "India", "Denmark" in place of the current "Delta", "Yokohama" in place of "Yankee", etc, etc. It would seem this is no worse, to me, than using kcs instead of kHz.

My problem with odd or non-standard phonetics is the use of regional or colloquial words, things that a speaker of a different language would have no reason to know. That kind of defeats the purpose of the phonetics, in my opinion. But non-standard using fairly standard words I don’t see as a problem.

T!
 
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