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I can see how M as in Mancy would be confusing..
May 1, 2011 2:31 PM   Subscribe

I am looking to create a useless phonetic alphabet, and respectfully request your assistance.

I work on the phone, and frequently find myself spelling things phonetically (A as in alpha, D as in delta, W as in wombat, etc). A coworker and I were talking yesterday about making a useless phonetic alphabet where "$letter as in $word" would be misleading. Basically what I am looking for are words that start with a letter, but do not sound like they start with that letter. For instance:

K as in knock
M as in mnemonic
P as in pneumatic
W as in write

I'm having some difficulty coming up with any more (K, M, P and W are pretty easy). Any suggestions?
posted by sacrifix to Grab Bag (34 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are proper nouns okay? Here's two:

D as in Djibouti

C as in Cnidaria
posted by theodolite at 2:32 PM on May 1, 2011


Depending on your pronunciation, h as in herb (honour, etc). A as in aisle.
posted by jeather at 2:38 PM on May 1, 2011


H as in Herb (depending on where you're from.)
posted by empath at 2:38 PM on May 1, 2011


A as in Aesthetician
B as in Bdellium
E as in Eyrie
G as in Gnash
J as in Juan
posted by mumkin at 2:39 PM on May 1, 2011


X as in Xylophone

G as in gnash

E as in ennui (maybe? its a little misleading )
posted by milestogo at 2:39 PM on May 1, 2011


X as in Xylophone is pretty standard. There's no other way to pronounce and initial x, as far as I know.
posted by empath at 2:40 PM on May 1, 2011


T as in Tsar (or C as in Czar)
posted by benzo8 at 2:41 PM on May 1, 2011


Y as in Ytterbium also could work. It isn't silent as much as misleading.
posted by milestogo at 2:44 PM on May 1, 2011


L as in Lladro
N as in Nguyen
O as in Oesophagus
P as in Phone
posted by mumkin at 2:45 PM on May 1, 2011


eh, scratch that. I no longer agree with my previous comment.
posted by milestogo at 2:46 PM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's this old chestnut, a phonetic spelling of "easy":

E as in eye
A as in are
S as in sea
Y as in you
posted by mhum at 2:49 PM on May 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


T as in tsunami. (See Language Log.) D as in djinn.

The bottom of this page gives a whole list, and apparently there's a Barenaked Ladies song. (I found these by googling bdellium mnemonic, because these are two words that have nothing in common except having silent first letters.)
posted by madcaptenor at 2:53 PM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Surely this would only be a useless phonetic alphabet if the listener couldn't spell the words you've chosen.

I mean, the point of the words is not so much for their first letter to sound like the letter of the alphabet you intend to convey but more that the person listening can figure out which letter you mean from the spelling of the word you've used.

All these suggestions are perfectly usable as long as the both of you know how to spell them correctly.
posted by davidjohnfox at 2:54 PM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, how is "sfumato" pronounced in English?
posted by madcaptenor at 2:55 PM on May 1, 2011


"Surely this would only be a useless phonetic alphabet if the listener couldn't spell the words you've chosen.

I mean, the point of the words is not so much for their first letter to sound like the letter of the alphabet you intend to convey but more that the person listening can figure out which letter you mean from the spelling of the word you've used.
"

Yes. More accurately, the word is supposed to be one that wouldn't be a real word if the initial letter was replaced by another that could be mishead for it.
posted by turkeyphant at 3:03 PM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I honestly used to use P as in Pneumonia when I worked in a pulmonary clinic. Broke up the monotony.

Qadhafi is both timely and works for Q, although you could be really awful and use it for K and G while you're there.
posted by cobaltnine at 3:04 PM on May 1, 2011


P as in pterodactyl.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:22 PM on May 1, 2011


Also, how is "sfumato" pronounced in English?

It wouldn't work for 'S' as the 'S' in sfumato isn't silent.
posted by ellieBOA at 3:24 PM on May 1, 2011


G as in gnome, gnarly
E as in Euclid?
posted by cheemee at 3:37 PM on May 1, 2011


J as in Jalapeño.
posted by jozxyqk at 3:39 PM on May 1, 2011


P as in ptarmigan
C as in chthonic
E as in ewer?
posted by CutaneousRabbit at 3:45 PM on May 1, 2011


E as in Euler
posted by yeolcoatl at 4:15 PM on May 1, 2011


K as in knight
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:26 PM on May 1, 2011


ellieBOA: thanks. "sfumato" is one of those words I've never heard spoken.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:34 PM on May 1, 2011


Have you seen this askmefi question?
posted by madcaptenor at 5:35 PM on May 1, 2011


D as in Djinn.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:38 PM on May 1, 2011


Q as in Qi (pronounced 'Chee')
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:38 PM on May 1, 2011


A as in Aesthetician
A as in aisle.
B as in Bdellium
C as in chthonic
C as in Cnidaria
C as in Czar
D as in Djibouti
D as in Djinn.
E as in eye
E as in ennui (maybe? its a little misleading )
E as in Euclid?
E as in Euler
E as in ewer?
E as in Eyrie
G as in Gnash
G as in gnome, gnarly
h as in herb (honour, etc).
H as in Herb (depending on where you're from.)
J as in JalapeƱo.
J as in Juan
K as in knock
K as in knight
L as in Lladro
M as in mnemonic
N as in Nguyen
O as in Oesophagus
P as in Phone
P as in Pneumonia when I worked in a pulmonary clinic. Broke up the monotony.
P as in pneumatic
P as in ptarmigan
P as in pterodactyl.
Q as in Qi (pronounced 'Chee')
Q as in Qadhafi is both timely and works for Q, although you could be really awful and use it for K and G while you're there.
S as in sea
T as in tsunami. (See Language Log.) D as in djinn.
T as in Tsar
W as in write
X as in Xylophone
Y as in you
Y as in Ytterbium also could work. It isn't silent as much as misleading.

Inspiring question. Thanks.
posted by mearls at 6:14 PM on May 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


P as in psychiatry
posted by mahorn at 6:59 PM on May 1, 2011


E as in ewer?

I like "e as in ewe" for its confusingness.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:44 PM on May 1, 2011


If you just want confusing and useless, maybe some of these?

A as in am
B as in bam
C as in cam
D as in dam
...
G as is gam
H as in ham
J as in jam
...
L as in lam
M as in ma'am
...
P as in Pam
...
R as in ram
S as is Sam
T as in tam
...
W as in wham
...
Y as is yam
...
posted by chazlarson at 5:13 AM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


X as in Christmas. (x-mas)
posted by chairface at 1:11 PM on May 2, 2011


If you can't make it phonetically difficult, you can at least make it difficult or distracting to parse.

I as in in.
R as in ... ready?...
posted by Kriegsman at 2:07 PM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe you need to resort to proper names?

F as in Flewelling
I as in Iago/Ianto
U as in Usama
Z as in Zapatista (sounds like an s?)
posted by flarb at 6:52 AM on May 3, 2011


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