Phonetic Alphabet Converter

Type something in the little box, click go, and the results will be shown in the big box.

Ok sparky.. so you already knew that right? Fact is.. phonetically is trickier than you think. When your in a hurry, you know.. on the phone, trying to impress your friends or whatever, you can just type: in the address bar of your browser instead of loading up the page and then typing in 'sparky'.

If your one of those super cool elitist types, then you can even use a !bang like so:!sparky and forego the html altogether.

What is converts a word or phrase to the NATO Phonetic Alphabet (Spelling Alphabet). It's really handy for spelling things out over the phone when your having difficulty making yourself understood. It's very easy to use, and really really quick. If you have the kind of job that involves talking on the phone whilst staring at a computer screen, then doubtless you have been confronted with the frustrating challenge of trying to spell something to someone on the other end of the phone. Things get very frustrating very quickly after spelling something out for the second (or third!) time. So if you've ever had to restrain yourself from saying "thats 'I' for Idiot", then phonetically is for you.

Lot's of people use their very own, super cool, secret spy alphabet for spelling things out. You know the one, it goes "thats 's' for sam, 'p' for peter..." That's fine and all but the official Phonetic Alphabet is better and here's why:

  • It's specially designed to be almost impossible to get confused between letters, whereas 's' for sam might sound like 'f' for fan
  • You dont have to say 's for sam, p for peter' and so on, you can just say 'sierra papa'

Fun Phonetic Fact #2

'Delta' is replaced by 'Data', 'Dixie' or 'David' at airports that have a majority of Delta Air Lines flights, such as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in order to avoid confusion because 'Delta' is also Delta's callsign.

About Phonetic Alphabets

The concept of using a Phonetic Alphabet has been as long as alphabet's and the technology of writing. It's a common practice, where a single letter is misunderstood, to say "T for Tom', or 'B for Bill'. Whilst at first glance, it might seem easy to come up with a single set of words to use as a Phonetic Alphabet, there's a lot more to it than meets the eye. Phonetic Alphabets in common use have gone through a variety of changes and modifications in the past, and continue to be adapted and modified today. Deciding on 24 words which cannot possibly be mistaken for one another, can be pronounced by everyone, heard by everyone, and do not offend anyone, is a complex task indeed.

The first internationally recognised official Phonetic Alphabet was that of the International Telecommunication Union. In 1927 the ITU drafted a phonetic alphabet of 24 words, used to denote single letters, to be used for international telecommunication. Over the following 5 years, several minor changes were made until in 1932 the ITU Phonetic Alphabet looked something like:

Amsterdam Baltimore Casablanca Denmark Edison Florida Gallipoli Havana Italia Jerusalem Kilogramme Liverpool Madagascar New_York Oslo Paris Quebec Roma Santiago Tripoli Upsala Valencia Washington Xanthippe Yokohama Zurich

In the 1930's and 40's a number of different Phonetic Alphabets were used. Many different organisations were large enough to develop and use their own Phonetic Alphabet. The US Army and Navy colaberated to create the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet commonly known as "Able/Baker".

The Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet turned out to be problematic in that it was designed only for english speakers, and contained many sounds which either dont exist, or are differently pronounced, in other languages. The International Air Transport Association recognised the need for an international standard phonetic alphabet, and set about drafting a phonetic alphabet that had sounds common to English, French, and Spanish. The process took four years, and was finally implemented by the ICAO in 1951. It was:

Alfa Bravo Coca Delta Echo Foxtrot Golf Hotel India Juliett Kilo Lima Metro Nectar Oscar Papa Quebec Romeo Sierra Tango Union Victor Whisky Extra Yankee Zulu

Despite the thought, experience and research that went into designing the original ICAO Phonetic Alphabet, problems immediately emerged. After consulting with native speakers of 31 nations, it appeared that there was confusion between the words "Delta, Nectar, Victor, and Extra". In the end, only the words representing the letters C, M, N, U, and X were replaced. Subsequent to those replacements, the ICAO implemented this phonetic alphabet and it remains in use in that form today, more than 50 years later.

Whilst the ICAO Phonetic Alphabet is very versatile, there are cases in which it's adapted to avoid confusion or offense. For example, "Delta" can be replaced by "Data", "Dixie" or "David" at airports because "Delta" is also Delta Airline's callsign. "Lima" can be replaced by "London" in Malay speaking countries, because "Lima" represents the number 5. Also, in countries where alcohol is frowned upon, "Whiskey" is often replaced by "Washington". In Pakistan, people prefer to say "Italy" instead of "India" for socio-political reasons.

source: wikipedia

Phonetic Alphabets in Use

LetterNATO / International AviationBritish Forces 1952RAF 1942-43Telecom-BBritish-A or InternationalNY Police
NNovemberNanNutsNellieNew YorkNora