The Phonetic Alphabet is a modern development of the ancient observation that, as every journey begins with a single step of a thousand miles, so every word begins with a single letter, and vice-versa.
The Mother of Invention
Patient: Doctor, doctor, I've got this terrible pain in my B-U-M. Doctor: Well, you shouldn't keep shoving things up there, you I-M-B-E-C-I-L-E.
In the early summer of 1939, a young man named Roger Phonet was working as a telegraph engineer in the Austrian village of Wien der Panz (informaly known as Naziville). He had been sent to repair a fault in the post-office telegraph relay system when he saw a poster advertising a dance in the village that evening. His joy at the prospect of dancing with his young wife was dampened by the realization that he did not have the money to buy a ticket.
Without thinking, Phonet connected his portable telegraph apparatus to the unrepaired relay and sent a message to his father in Braunau am Inn, saying "Send three and fourpence; we're going to a dance". Unfortunately the message underwent a series of distortions within the faulty circuit, and the corrupted version that his father received was "Attack Europe; kill everyone without mercy". By the time the error was discovered some six years later over sixty million people were dead and nearly five times that number seriously or very seriously upset. Phonet's money never arrived and, to add insult to injury, he was summoned by his superior and told that his job would be forfeit if he ever used company equipment without permission again.
Chastened, Phonet began to ponder ways to avoid a repeat of his blunder. His thoughts drifted back to his evenings in the doctor's surgery and the solution flashed into his brilliant mind. He need only reverse the process of spelling out each word letter by letter, replacing each letter with a whole word, and the entropic redundancy of the exherent semiotic mapping would be enormous. The Phonetic Alphabet was born.
Cometh the Man
Bush: Roger roger, yardbrush ottoman uvula radish epistle, endor victim incept lemur. Over. Kim: Nutjob omelette, yoyo oboe ubu roro emo, ego volvo impetigo lilo. Over. Bush: Nosebag outgas, yokel ostrich utmost redskin eggplant, eagle vassal igloo lambchop. Over. Kim: Neanderthal oaf, yarrow oswald underparts ratbag earwig, exit vietnam iraq lagos. Over. Bush: Namby ... uh ... oh, shut up, Kim! You're boring! You are boring! Kim: Ha ha ha! I win! I win!
Declassified transcript of high level communication between George W. Bush, President of The United States of America, and Kim Yong-il, Premier of North Korea, using the Phonetic Alphabet
As well as its original purpose of reducing unwanted genocide, the Phonetic Alphabet finds use in many areas of modern life such as
- creating subject headers for spam
- insulting people who aren't very clever
- many other areas of modern life.
Phonet's original suggestion that every exchange should begin with 'Roger' (his name) and 'roger' (his father's name) is still followed, and after every message the word 'Over' (actually the latin 'ova', meaning 'eggs') is used and it is probable that if Phonet were alive today he'd be able to understand and take part in a conversation using his invention. Sadly the shame brought upon him by his inability to take his wife to the village dance preyed on his mind and in the summer of 1954, on the anniversary of that fateful afternoon, he took his own life by swallowing a wireless valve covered in poo.
To help with pronunciation: A - as in Aye, B - as in Berth, C - as in Cue, D - as in Dearth, E - as in Eye, F - as in Faro, G - as in Gnu, H - as in Hour, I - as in Ian, J - as in Joule, K - as in Knew, L - as in Llama, M - as in Mnemonic, N - as in Ng, O - as in Our, P - as in Psi, Q - as in Quay, R - as in Retch, S - as in See, T - as in Tmesis, U - as in Urban, V - as in Vat W - as in Wye, X - as in Xylophone, Y - as in Yew, Z - as in Zymosis