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Lack of Phonetics in SOTA QSO

As a professional pilot I’ll admit I’m a bit of a stickler for using the official phonetic alphabet. I’m of the opinion our hobby would overall be better served if every operator used the same phonetics. Please do NOT read this as me trying to tell anyone how to operate though.


A to Ω (a to ω)

Eric, this was only the discussion on the DL call sign series Armin and I started. :wink:
A bit off-topic and not well marked, I must admit.



Hi Andrew,

I’ve checked back in my log, every contact on 60m had an R5 report both ways. I obviously for whatever reason on this occasion (fatigue, brain fade due to having been operating on a windy mountain top at near-freezing temperatures for well over an hour?) didn’t perceive any error when my call was repeated back to me. I had no reason to assume that my call hadn’t been received correctly, if I had I would have corrected it. Am I expected to repeat my call phonetically on every contact even when to the best of my knowledge the exchange has been correctly made “just in case”? I’m not sure I deserve the opprobrium implied in your initial post.

It has at least spawned an interesting discussion on use of phonetics. IMHO use of the NATO phonetic alphabet should be made compulsory. (Tin hat on and ready to duck).

Look forward to catching you from a hilltop soon

73 de Paul G4MD/G6GGP

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It would make things easier. But we would have to re-train the vast majority of UK hams to say them properly.


Oh dear! Now we are heading into the mindset where everything that is not compulsory is forbidden! Do we really need to apply a phonetics straightjacket to amateur radio?


Yes. Or there wouldn’t be so many threads/discussions about the subject.


In these discussions there are people against as well as for the (compulsory) use of NATO phonetics, so the number of discussions cannot be used as a simple support for one side, it supports both sides.


I’m ex mil and do have to think about it when people don’t use the NATO phonetics. Not a problem, each to their own, I’m usually more amused about me still being programmed after leaving the Navy 13 years ago.


Air Traffic Control in the USA are supposed to say 3 as Tree! Most don’t and I’ve never heard a pilot repeat back TREE. I recently ended.a transmission while flying after a long day KIlo Echo 8…but caught myself. The controller asked if I was a ham!!!



That’s the whole point of using a consistent set of phonetics and pronunciations - you go straight to the letter (or number) without the need for intervening mental gymnastics and the consequent possibility of error. A no-brainer… literally :rofl:

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Perhaps you’d approve of hams also using the older pre NATO, phonetic alphabet:-
Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog Easy, Fox, George, How, Item, Jig, King,…etc.,

Or even the one used for a while by the Air Transport Association := Alfa, Bravo, Coca, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Gold, * etc.,

Or even an earlier one, once approved by the International Telecommunication Union: -
Amsterdam, Baltimore, Casablanca, Denmark, Edison, Florida, Gallipoli, Havana, Italia, Jerusalem, Kilogramme, Liverpool, Madagascar, New York, Oslo, Paris, Quebec, Roma, Santiago, Tripoli, Uppsala, Valencia, Washington, Xanthippe, Yokohama, Zurich.

There have been others. The NATO alphabet is used worldwide and the pronunciation is also standardised world wide, although there are sometimes very slight oddities such as P sometimes being pronounced either PAPA or PA-PA with two very distinct syllables.

And wouldn’t it be fun if we used the WW2 Navajo phoenetc alphabet which had more than one phoenetic for each letter used in their alphabet:- Wol la chee; Be la sana: Na hash chid; shush, Toish-Jeh etc., etc.,

Perhaps you should not be able to use a transmitter unless you use the NATO alphabet. :crazy_face: :crazy_face:


Even call centre staff seem familiar with the NATO words - I’ve often used it to confirm my post code etc, and they accept it first time without comment. It is very useful…


For real amusement value there is the old 8th Army alphabet as used in North Africa, IIRC it started A for 'orses, B for carrots, C forth highlanders, D for kate and so on. I think it was adopted because both sides used the same frequencies and there was a lot of spoofing going on, but it makes the sins of hams look very small!


Certainly not.

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Oh, so do I get a smacked hand for using Ontario Italy Guatemala on occasion when the other guy doesn’t understand Oscar India Golf? :thinking: Seriously, alternatives do have a place. I often have trouble with Gs at both ends of my call (on CW as well!), so distinguishing between them is helpful.

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He doesn’t understand because the correct phonetics and pronunciation are not taught. We (UK hams) know this for a fact because the overwhelming majority of UK hams say Quebec wrong and don’t understand Spanish stations when they say Quebec correctly.


And that after all the training we have had in Fawlty Towers (Manuel > “Que?”). :joy:

I take it then that the French way of pronouncing it is the same as the Spanish?

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There is the correct way (as per ICAO) or the wrong way. I admit to often saying it wrong and then correcting it.

I must admit I chose my callsign for my initials without thinking about the phonetics and ended up in a Shakespeare play :wink:

I often use “Mexico Five Radio Japan Canada” on HF