Re: "It Might Be Time to Update the Old ‘Alfa-Bravo-Charlie’ Spelling Alphabet"

Just read this article. Although it was cute, and the author made some valid points, he would appear to be completely clueless as to the current ubiquity of what’s often referred to as the ‘phonetic alphabet’ in one important but often overlooked activity: that of wireless amateur radio communications.
In point of fact, amateur radio communications, as governed by the International Telecommunication Union and the International Amateur Radio Union, is used every day all over the world by amateurs of every participating country. In this capacity, radio amateurs use the phonetic alphabet to ID one another’s stations and send messages, and they continue to do so with barely a hitch, as the phonetic alphabet is a universal standard.
And if you think it’s too archaic (or whatever) to work well, you might first consider how radio amateurs continue to serve as the first line of notification when natural or human-made disasters occur. (Case in point: After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and environs, it was radio amateurs who were able to locate victims in need and direct emergency workers to them, including members of FEMA. Again, this scenario plays itself out all over the world.
In short, if the phonetic alphabet didn’t work, it would’ve been abandoned a long time ago. Frankly, the only time that amateur communications can become a little dicey in this regard is when people (funnily enough, most often Americans) decide to get creative and inject their own phonetic terms, in which case there’s someone around to politely correct them. But such cases are relatively rare exceptions.
Again, I did enjoy this article, as the author makes some valid points. However, I felt I had to write this so that readers wouldn’t necessarily draw any general conclusions from it without some broader knowledge.

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I just came here with a link to the story also. Oh man, for all the neat stuff I’ve seen at AO this one really grabbed me. I have, on my desktop, a picture depicting the NATO alphabet because there are parts if it I never remember and… why not? In fact, I just had to put in a big order of electronic parts for the side job, and those part numbers and 20+ numbers and digits long. I appreciate the patience of the operator and had to apologize for missing parts of the phonetic alphabet and having to come up with my own words for some of them.

I also have, somewhere around the house, a print out of the semaphore code from probably 20 years ago. Again, why not? I never got around to learning that, but my remote adventures are mostly in wooded areas so really, it’s not going to do me much good there. I would, however, love to walk past a friend’s house or see them in the car and start communicating via semaphore and then look upon them condescendingly when they have no idea what’s happening. Again, why not?

I have to chime in on the author’s suggestion of using “S as in sugar.” As a retired speech language pathologist (and user of the IPA), I have to point out that sugar does not begin with the sound of /s/. It begins with the sound /sh/, which has its own phonetic symbol (which I can’t access to put in this comment). If you were spelling this to a non-native speaker of English, I think confusion might ensue.