Over the last few days, I’ve come across half a dozen stories, both fiction and non fiction, that turned on the reader having at least a basic understanding of the NATO phonetic alphabet. That’s the full name of the “Alfa, Bravo, Charlie” code usually associated with the military and international aviation. More properly, it’s a spelling alphabet, intended to allow people who speak different languages to spell out letters and numbers without different names and pronunciations getting in the way. The code words, their spelling and pronunciations are based on several similar alphabets devised during and after World War II for clear voice communication between combat groups and between bases and units in the field; these were combined, tested and revised several times until the present version was adopted by NATO in 1956 and spread from there around the world. The final version of the code is supposedly distinct enough to be understandable to speakers of 31 different languages. Learn more about it and how it works here; it’s really quite an interesting story.
The phonetic alphabet is at least vaguely familiar to almost everyone, but very few of us outside the occupations that use it professionally could stand up on our hind legs and recite it. But it’s common enough that almost everyone who enjoys the media in any form should probably learn it or at least have easy access to a cheat sheet. So, since this blog is supposed to be useful, at least once in a while, have this one on me:I got it from the Wikipedia, so it is in the public domain; feel free to copy it to your master file of Stuff that May Come in Handy Someday, or print it out and tack it to your bulletin board.