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E like Echo

Chris Baron
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Joined: Mar 21, 2003
Posts: 1049
Oh man,
E like Echo. Speak that loud and then tell me how phonetically helpful you think it is for a foreigner
*gnarl*
Mike Simmons
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Joined: Mar 05, 2008
Posts: 3018
    
  10
Not sure what the issue is here. What sort of "phonetically helpful" were you hoping for? Spelling alphabets like the NATO one aren't designed to help understand how a letter is pronounced, they're designed to be phonetically unambiguous, with each letter easily distinguished from any other letter or number that the speaker might refer to (assuming speaker and listener are familiar with the same spelling alphabet). What is the problem you're having?
David O'Meara
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Joined: Mar 06, 2001
Posts: 13459

E like pEE?
A is for 'orses
Chris Baron
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 21, 2003
Posts: 1049
@Mike:
my problem is if someone is spelling over the phone with "A like Alpha", "B like Bravo", "E like Echo" etc.
"E like Echo" sounds "EEH like AKKO"
Mike Simmons
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 05, 2008
Posts: 3018
    
  10
Hmm, I guess the speaker is not a native English speaker? (Or is there a native accent where "echo" comes out "akko"?) More importantly, I guess this conversation is occurring in a context where the listener is not expecting a particular spelling alphabet, like say the NATO one you linked to? I would think that if both speaker and listener were expecting the NATO alphabet, then it would be reasonably easy to figure out that "akko" is "echo". But if it's just tossed into a random conversation where the listener doesn't know what to expect, no, it's far from unambiguous. But that's unfortunately the norm anyway when different accents are involved, especially over the phone. Misunderstandings happen. Short of having a single language and accent for the whole world, I'm not sure there's any good solution to your problem that won't be troublesome for some combination of speaker and listener accents.
Chris Baron
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Joined: Mar 21, 2003
Posts: 1049
Mike, the idea of an phonetical alphabet is that the Letter and the first letter of the associated word are equal and sound equal. Otherwise the word phonetical wouldn't make any sense. How do you pronounce the "e" in Echo? Like in Egypt? If yes, were are you from?
Mike Simmons
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Joined: Mar 05, 2008
Posts: 3018
    
  10
Chris Baron wrote:Mike, the idea of an phonetical alphabet is that the Letter and the first letter of the associated word are equal and sound equal. Otherwise the word phonetical wouldn't make any sense.

Hm, this was addressed directly at the beginning of the link you gave above:
The NATO phonetic alphabet [...] is the most widely used spelling alphabet. Though often called "phonetic alphabets", spelling alphabets have no connection to phonetic transcription systems like the International Phonetic Alphabet. Instead, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) alphabet assigns code words to the letters of the English alphabet acrophonically (Alfa for A, Bravo for B, etc.) so that critical combinations of letters (and numbers) can be pronounced and understood by those who transmit and receive voice messages by radio or telephone regardless of their native language, especially when the safety of navigation or persons is essential. The paramount reason is to ensure intelligibility of voice signals over radio links.

There is no actual requirement here for the name of the letter and the pronunciation of the letter to match. I'm not sure that's even a realistic goal in English (how would you handle "W"?), especially English in an international context. In NATO particularly, many of the nations involved would name "E" as "eh" or "ay", while "I" would be "ee". Whereas in English "E" is "ee" and "I" is "eye". But that's confusing for many of the other nations involved. Better to go with something that doesn't sound like any of those, but which is at least distinguishable from the other letter-names in the spelling alphabet.

Chris Baron wrote:How do you pronounce the "e" in Echo? Like in Egypt? If yes, were are you from?

No, I'm from the western US, and I pronounce the "e" in "echo" as "eh", "eh-ko". Whereas "E" in "Egypt" is "ee" as in "glee" or "flee".
Chris Baron
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Joined: Mar 21, 2003
Posts: 1049
Mike Simmons wrote:
Chris Baron wrote:Mike, the idea of an phonetical alphabet is that the Letter and the first letter of the associated word are equal and sound equal. Otherwise the word phonetical wouldn't make any sense.

Hm, this was addressed directly at the beginning of the link you gave above:
... assigns code words to the letters of the English alphabet acrophonically...

Err hum! Yes the article addresses it really directly at the beginning. And the key word is acrophonical here. The "phonical" part implies that it's all about sounding and NOT just about spelling. That would be acromorph or so

Mike Simmons wrote:
Chris Baron wrote:How do you pronounce the "e" in Echo? Like in Egypt? If yes, were are you from?

... I'm from the western US, and I pronounce the "e" in "echo" as "eh", "eh-ko"...
My sincere condolences
So the strategic mastermind who designed the alphabet came from there too.
He really should have used "Egypt" or "Easy".
Mike Simmons
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 05, 2008
Posts: 3018
    
  10
Excuse me? Is there some reason to bring personal insults into this?

Also I don't follow why you think my answer to the pronunciation question explains the NATO/ICAO alphabet usage. My pronunciation of "e" in "echo" is not how I would pronounce the letter "E", any more than yours is. So what? My point was that this was not a design goal in the first place, and I'm fine with that.

Again, how would you handle "W"?

Though I do agree, "Egypt" or "Easy" do seem better. And "Easy" was used in the past by the Brits and Americans, as shown in the article you linked to. I wonder why they changed it later? Perhaps some people were hearing "Easy" as E-Z or E-C? Perhaps there were issues for people from some other country that was involved in creating an international standard? I don't know.

As for acrophonically vs acromorphically, feel free to look those up in an English dictionary. I'm sorry if human language usage does not always conform to your ideas of logic.
Chris Baron
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Joined: Mar 21, 2003
Posts: 1049
Sorry, I absolutely didn't want to insult you. I was just joking
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11406
    
  16

Remember that the words were not simply selected because they sound like the letter...They were chosen in part so that they were distinguishable from other words in the alphabet even when radio transmissions were garbled, staticy, or shouted over gunfire/bombs going off nearby. You need words that are easily understood in lousy conditions.

I always thought they should use words like K -> knowledge, P -> pneumatic, and G - gnat.


There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
Matthew Brown
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Joined: Apr 06, 2010
Posts: 4421
    
    8

There's this one if you like something less obvious.
Mike Simmons
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Joined: Mar 05, 2008
Posts: 3018
    
  10
Chris: no problem; I was probably overreacting.

Fred: re: knowledge, pneumatic, gnat - you are truly evil. I like it. Can we throw in

D -> Djibouti
H -> herb (American prononciation)
M -> mnemonic
N -> Nguyen
O -> opossum

Possibly also replace "gnat" with

G -> ghoti (pronounced fish of course).

And for fun, throw in

B -> bee
J -> jay
Q -> queue
T -> tea

as well. Just to mess with people.
Paul Clapham
Bartender

Joined: Oct 14, 2005
Posts: 18651
    
    8

There's an interesting implementation of that alphabet in the Atlanta airport. It's a large airport with five terminals which are imaginatively named A, B, C, D, and E. And there's a train system connecting the terminals.

One day on my way to somewhere else I was riding this train. First it went to "Alpha" terminal, then to "Bravo" terminal, then to "Charlie" terminal. At this point I started to think... "Wait, this airport is a hub for Delta Airlines, are they really going to call the next one Delta?" But no, that would have been way too confusing. The next train stop turned out to be "David" terminal.
Joanne Neal
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Joined: Aug 05, 2005
Posts: 3646
    
  15
Chris Baron wrote:
Mike Simmons wrote:
Chris Baron wrote:Mike, the idea of an phonetical alphabet is that the Letter and the first letter of the associated word are equal and sound equal. Otherwise the word phonetical wouldn't make any sense.

Hm, this was addressed directly at the beginning of the link you gave above:
... assigns code words to the letters of the English alphabet acrophonically...

Err hum! Yes the article addresses it really directly at the beginning. And the key word is acrophonical here. The "phonical" part implies that it's all about sounding and NOT just about spelling. That would be acromorph or so

Mike Simmons wrote:
Chris Baron wrote:How do you pronounce the "e" in Echo? Like in Egypt? If yes, were are you from?

... I'm from the western US, and I pronounce the "e" in "echo" as "eh", "eh-ko"...
My sincere condolences
So the strategic mastermind who designed the alphabet came from there too.
He really should have used "Egypt" or "Easy".

This is just a thought and I don't know if it's the real reason.
Remember that this system is used internationally and not just by native English speakers. In Spanish (and probably a number of other languages), the sound of the letter e is 'eh'. So the designers thought, if we choose 'echo', native English speakers will be certain to know that it starts with an 'e' and for many people who are not native English speakers, the sound of the word will actually match how they pronounce 'e'.


Joanne
 
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