30 December 2008

Idiosyncratic annoyance #542: Ad hoc spelling alphabets

Which I will not refer to as a ‘pet peeve’, because the phrase ‘pet peeve’ is one of my idiosyncratic annoyances.

Monologue dramatique, d'après d'innumerables conversations téléphoniques que j’ai eu la malchance d’écouter:
Yes. The licence plate? It’s B T P 4 5 2. B as in Boy. T as in Top. P as in Paul. Four. Five. Two. Yes. No ... no, B. B as in Boy. Yes. Yes, that’s what I said. No ... wait ... did you say Boy or Toy? No, oh, okay, sorry, I said B as in Boy, not T as in Toy. Make it B as in Ball. You’ve got it. Yes. No, no, not P as in Paul, B as in Ball. Right. Then T as in Top. What? No. Top, not Pop. T as in Top. ...
Public service announcement: we have fixed spelling alphabets that were specifically designed by linguists in order to avoid this kind of ridiculousness.


Is it really so hard to remember — to use the best-known Anglophone example, the NATO spelling alphabetthe words Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliett, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu? (There are plenty of other well-designed ones if you feel that the aeronautical connotations of that alphabet are a bit much for customer service.)

Misspelling alphabets, of course, are an art in themselves. My best effort thus far (drawing on the work of others, including examples here and here): Aye, Bdellium, Cue, Dzo, Ewe, Felindre, Gneiss, Hour, Ian, Juan, Knight, Lladró, Mneme, Nxuba, Oestrogen, Ptyxis, Quay, Rzeszów, Sea, Tchotchke, Uakare, Vates, Wring, Xylem, Yves, Zollverein.

Suggestions for improvements are welcomed.

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Kenneth S. Doig said...

"Ian"
Your word of honor, no seach-engines. What meaneth the anglicized Scottish-Gaelic name in English, Irish-Gaelic & what is the (fairly mainstream) traditional Gaelic spelling?

Kenneth S. Doig said...

Gyf þú swá andgietful síe, canstu mé sæcgean hwílicne sprecan ðone ic nú wrítu?
Ic undriu hwægðer þín múþ als mycel als brægn ðín. Ðú wýrpes lædeniscu word hiðer and ðiðer, ác casntu rihte lædeiscu word útsæcgean,ðon/ðy ilcan als Uirgilius, Pompeius oððe Iulius Caesar, oððe woldestu ðá word mid ðínum úcwide wancwellan. hwone hit tó réordum, indoeuropeiscum, germaniscum, grecciscum oððe ítaliscum cymeþ, swá forspillu ic þec.

Kenneth S. Doig said...

pronounce 'vates' in Classical Latin pronunciation, c. 200 BC. To what Scando-Gothonic (later deity) is 'uates' conate?

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