Phonetic Alphabet - quit saying "Kilowatt"

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KE0GTU, May 10, 2017.

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  1. WZ7U

    WZ7U Ham Member QRZ Page

    Tell us how you really feel...
  2. W1TRY

    W1TRY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    "Tango Romeo Yankee, Whiskey One this is..."
    N7EKU likes this.
  3. KD8NGE

    KD8NGE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Civilian law enforcement in Ohio uses a different phonetic alphabet than is considered "Universal Standard."
    A green lawman, not long out of the military, used what is considered, worldwide, correct phonetics ... and was tersely corrected by the Sheriff's dispatcher.
    I could not help but look at my partner and quote First Officer Spock:
    "A difference that makes no difference, is no difference."
    WD4IGX, WA9SVD and W1TRY like this.
  4. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page

    "King" seems to work much better, and less likely to be "cornfused."
  5. KV6O

    KV6O Ham Member QRZ Page

    Uhhh, Do or not do. There is no try.
    KJ4VTH likes this.
  6. N1OOQ

    N1OOQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Much ado about nothing. Listening to a few DX phone pileups provides a quick education in which phonetics work and which don't. It varies from op to op. People use different ones because they work, simple as that.
    WD4IGX likes this.
  7. K9STH

    K9STH Platinum Subscriber Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page


    However, there are a number of "standard" phonetic alphabets that differ from the ICAO phonetic alphabet.

    For example, public safety organizations use the APCO phonetic alphabet which differs substantially from the ICAO phonetic alphabet. Someone using the ICAO phonetic alphabet would be out-of-line when working with those agencies. Spanish speaking agencies in other countries have different phonetic alphabets as do the Japanese and Chinese.

    Aviation, and the military, definitely put an emphasis on "proper" pronunciation of the ICAO components to eliminate accents, etc., from affecting the communications. This training is necessary because, with both aviation and most foreign military organizations, a goodly percentage of the users do not speak English as their first language. Also, regional accents can cause problems which are eliminated by "proper" pronunciation. However, in the realm of amateur radio, formal training in the pronunciation is not a requirement. In fact, such is really not available for the vast majority of amateur radio operators. As such, especially when contacting operators who do not have English as their first language, or who have strong regional accents, the ICAO phonetic alphabet fails and often fails very badly.

    At least in the realm of amateur radio, geographical names are very common and using those names as a phonetic alphabet works very well. That is why one often hears geographical names used in pileups when working DX stations. As such, geographical names have become a de facto standard phonetic alphabet.

    When working stations where the operator does speak English as their first language, I definitely use the ICAO phonetic alphabet unless regional accents, etc., cause problems. But, when working DX, I generally use geographical names. Frankly, when I use the ICAO Kilo Nine Sierra Tango Hotel phonetics, especially when working a DX station, getting my call sign correct can take several exchanges and often not even then. However, when I use Kilowatt Nine Spain Texas Honolulu, or "Tokyo" for the letter "T", I almost never have to repeat my call.

    Basically, what works to convey the information is the "standard".

    Glen, K9STH
    WD4IGX, WA9SVD and AD5HR like this.
  8. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The standards used vary for sure but seem to be primarily oriented to strong-signal communications without severe fading like we encounter all the time.

    It's also obvious whoever dreamed them up wasn't using SSB and an output monitor like a scope to view "talk power" achieved by words. "Honolulu" is a great example, compared with "Hotel."

    Use an SSB rig and a scope and watch the pattern as you say "Hotel" (very low "talk power," without lots of compression might hit 10% of CW carrier power), then "Honolulu" (substantially larger envelope, might hit 25-30% of CW carrier power, just by observation). Which do you think would get through better?

    With a carrier mode like AM or FM, the "low talk power" words might work fine; with SSB, nah.

    For aviators/maritime ops et al. I'd thing "geographic locations" make way more sense, since they'd be very familiar with those. "England" has a lot more talk power than "Echo," and everyone knows where it is. Etc.
    WD4IGX likes this.
  9. WZ7U

    WZ7U Ham Member QRZ Page

    I used 'King Kong' when I had troubles getting my advanced call interpreted correctly. Worked perfectly.
  10. K1SZO

    K1SZO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I agree that using standard phonetics is important for true clarity, but not required. I made a contact in Poland this morning and it took me four tries to figure out the H in his callsign because he didn't say Hotel, and he kept changing the word with another word that started with H.

    Anyhow, I really don't like Sugar for S when people return my callsign. Sierra! Though, I just deal with it and move on.

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