Since it’s coming next week, I wanted to put this out there so that everyone can “ooh” and “ahh”, or whatever you do.
I’m sure that everyone has had an occasion where they’ve had to spell something for a person on the phone. If you have, you know that certain letters sound similar, like “M” and “N”, “P” and “T”, “F” and “S”, and “B” and “D”. If you’re speaking over a bad connection, it’s easy for the person at the other end to get the letters wrong. It’s not a big deal if you’re spelling your name and the person gets the letters wrong. It IS a big deal if you’re a pilot talking with an air traffic controller, and he tells you to land on runway 2M and you heard it as runway 2N. That could end up a disaster.
There are ways to avoid this. Probably the most common is to use a word that starts with that letter instead of the letter itself. My third grade nun, Mother Juanita, helped us learn to spell “arithmetic” by saying the sentence “A rat in Tom’s house might eat Tom’s ice cream.” (The dirty rat!) Over the years, spelling alphabets evolved that used standard words for each letter. The able-baker-charlie alphabet that the British Army developed was one such spelling alphabet. The most commonly used today is the one used by NATO:
My last name would then be spelled “hotel oscar lima tango oscar november”.
Anyway, that’s my theme for this year: to go through the NATO spelling alphabet and use the word associated with the letter of the day as the basis for a post. I will be as original as possible, meaning that I won’t talk about Shakespeare on the days dedicated to Romeo and Juliet.
Oh, this is going to be fun….