Wednesday, 11 March 2020

able baker or radiotelephone spelling alphabet

Prior to standarisation efforts in 1959 that resulted in the NATO phonetic alphabet, telegraph operators, wire-services and civilian and military authorities employed a range of some two hundred jargon alphabets for clarity over airwaves that could often come across as garbled or muffled. While many syllabaries contained over-lapping elements, communication between agencies was fraught for confusion assuredly with no definitive source out there.

One early popular but by no means universalconvention used cosmopolitan city names—and it’s interesting to monitor the shift over the years and how the choices are reflective of the current conflicts and Zeitgeist. Previously we’ve explored how the letter x was treated prior to the catch-all x-rays or xylophone as well as the digits later codified, and it is noteworthy how common-usage transverses from something international and somewhat inclusive to something clipped and jingoistic as reception has improved, albeit city names would be potentially treacherous for air-traffic controllers and first-responders.