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Phonetic Alphabet and Signal Flags

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A phonetic alphabet is a list of words used to identify letters. It was developed to put an end to confusion in telephone or radio conversations. Two words may sound alike and still they can have very different meanings; for example: "sale" and "sail." Spelling is therefore necessary to tell one from the other. Unfortunately, spelling is not enough to solve the problem, as it can also become confusing with similar sounding letters like "B" and "D." The phonetic alphabet, where letters are substituted by spoken words from an approved list, was thus developed to help prevent confusion between similar sounding letters/words, and to clarify communications that may be garbled during transmission. For example, the word "Navy" is spelled "November Alfa Victor Yankee" per the current phonetic alphabet.
  

The words selected to represent some letters have since changed several times, as shown in the table below. The meaning of the flags (the letters they represent) and their names (which make up the phonetic alphabet) were chosen by international agreement. Any changes must also be made by international agreement.

 
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      1941 - 1957 1957 - present      
  A

Afirm

Alfa      
  B Baker Bravo      
  C Charlie Charlie      
  D Dog Delta      
  E Easy Echo      
  F Fox Foxtrot      
  G George Golf      
  H How Hotel      
  I Item India      
  J Jig Juliet      
  K King Kilo      
  L Love Lima      
  M Mike Mike      
  N Nan November      
  O Oboe Oscar      
  P Peter Papa      
  Q Queen Quebec      
  R Roger Romeo      
  S Sugar Sierra      
  T Tare Tango      
  U Uncle Uniform      
  V Victor Victor      
  W William Whiskey      
  X X-ray X-ray      
  Y Yoke Yankee      
  Z Zebra Zulu      
                   

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last update 1. March 2013

written 1. March 2013

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