English Vocabulary

How to spell a word

LEADING ARTICLE [Fr. éditorial / Ge. Leitartikel / Sp. editorial]
In verbal communication not native are most liable to have to spell a word. How do we spell a word? By uttering letters one by one. If the speaker doesn’t pronounce the letter quite correctly, or on long distance calls with static noise, a misunderstanding is easily distorting the message. To prevent such bugs, people tell letters by a full first name beginning with that letter. For instance, to orally spell the word 'Dirk' some could tell 'Derris Irma Rhys Kevin'. The listener can as well understand 'Ferris Ulma Chris Kevin', making 'Fuck'.
Even by using any name up to the speaker, a misunderstanding may happen.
Therefore GG users had better using the international phraseology adopted for International Radio Communications. Standard words have been chosen so as not to be misheard.

If you haven’t practised that standard spelling so far, I’ll display it in the present thread, 3 letters at a time. In a fortnight or so, you should be able to be fluent with the international spelling.
[CW] (this code is not listed in the International Radio Communication phraseology!)


  • The first three in the alphabetical order.


    Jean Marron is lost downtown. He is stuck in a heavy traffic jam with a deafening hubbub and motor roars. To reach back the Treasure Trove Tower, he calls the taxi service "Pick-me-up" on his mobile phone.
    Jean: 'Could you send me a cab here in Conklin Avenue?'
    Dispatcher: 'What do you want?'
    Jean: '…xxxxyzz…xxyyyzzzzz..' (inaudible)
    Dispatcher: 'I read you 3. Spell your say.'
    Jean: 'I want a cab, CHARLIE – ALPHA – BRAVO.'
    Dispatcher: A cab? You mean a taxi!
    Thanks to his knowledge about spelling words Jean might possibly get a taxi. He is about to tell the name of the street where he’s got lost…. Will he manage the further spelling?

    Spend a short while spelling these words:
    faded : FOX-TROT – ALPHA – DELTA – ECHO - DELTA –
  • Please go on, Guardian Angel, I'd like to know more!
  • GOLF

    1. Tell it several times in a row (that's what Gee called a squirrel cage practice): ALPHA BRAVO CHARLIE DELTA ECHO FOX-TROT GOLF HOTEL INDIA

    2. Spell: fag - head - hide

    1. Take a spell to practice the "squirrel-cage" with all the known letters up to LIMA.
    2. Spell these words: chill - like – kick – jab - kill
  • Hotel India, Guardian Angel, I'm stocked at Lima, take me to M :-)
  • You got stuck at Lima, Peru?
    I right away fly to your place to take you for a flight around the world!

    MIKE (Put your lips close to the mike, so as I can hear you clear and loud.)
    NOVEMBER (Here we are.)

    ROMEO (Shakespeare had put his characters at stake when this list was built up)

    SIERRA (from Lima we'll overfly the Sierra Nevada, fantastic!)
    TANGO (Overflying Argentina, we'll dance a tango, as "it takes two to tango".

    WISKEY (to be used soberly)
    X-RAY (pronounce èks.., not ix, as they do in the French Alps.)

    YANKEE (we couldn't miss those Yankees.)
    ZULU (to be uttered just as you say zoulou in your French mountains.)

    Practice about any alphabetical language text is now possible. But I also suggest to tell all the letter-codes in a row, to get fit to tell them by rote, so as to make it automatically come to your mouth if need be.
  • Thanks Guardian Angel...
    that's one more trick to have fun over the phone (you would say ?)
    do you have clues to get the right pronunciation right away ?
  • What a trip! What an angel! May I suggest, but please don't misunderstand me as I wouldn't like to be cause of disorders in heaven, to get an hotel closed to India and to avoid echo to share together a drink... a good whisky maybe? (if you'd rather have a Williamine, we stay in the Alps!).

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