What do you understand by the word 'phonetics' in amateur radio communication?
If we listen to a two-way
amateur wireless conversation for the first time in our life, we would come across certain
words, which perhaps we never heard before! There is every possibility that we mistake
those words to be some kind of secret codes! These words in fact are internationally used
to do plain language (conversation in secret code language is not allowed in amateur radio
communication) conversation and known as phonetics (the list is given below).
A ham radio operator has to face different types of hurdles during an ongoing communication. There may be static noise, signal fading, interference from other station operating at close frequencies, local noises in the radio room, unusual voice accents of the other operator, improper pronunciation of words. During these and many other difficulties, it has been found that use of phonetics improves the intelligibility in communication. For example, the letter 'D' in represented by the word 'Delta' in phonetics while the letter 'B' is represented by 'Bravo'. To distinguish 'M' from 'N', hams use the words 'Mike' and 'Nancy' respectively.
Phonetic alphabet is useful when calling distant station or when the band is crowded, or when for any reason the station called is expected to have difficulty in copying voice signals. For example, the word 'Solstice' can be spelt using phonetic alphabet as Sierra Oscar Lima Sierra Tango India Charlie Echo. A person conversant in listening to such phonetics gets habituated in spontaneously writing down the exact word out of these phonetics! He feels more comfortable at writing down a message spelt out in phonetics rather than simple mentioning of each letters.