Friday, August 15, 2008

Mangled Alphabet

There are times when it is important to have the correct spelling of a spoken word. Because many English letters are difficult to distinguish when they are spoken (c, g, z), it is common to distinguish them by using a word. There is a standard word alphabet for this: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo...

But suppose your desire is not to be understood, but to be obscure. For example, the Internal Revenue Service calls to track down your offshore bank account. You don't want to be convicted of perjury, but you don't really want to be helpful either.

Here is a mangled alphabet for your pleasure. Just imagine being on the phone and saying "My name is Jim, J as in jalapeno, i as in ingenue, m as in mnemonic. What do you mean repeat myself, don't you speak English?".

The alphabet is a combination of spellings that do not match sounds, sounds that say a letter that is not the one of interest, accents on a misleading syllable, and obscure words that distract from the task at hand. With some letters I found it hard to be truly misleading. Suggestions are welcome.

A - Aoife (EE-feh) Irish female name
B - byssus (BIS-uhs)
C - cent (sent)
D - Django (JANG-oh) Django Reinhardt jazz great
E - elephant (EL-uh-fuhnt)
F - feign (feyn)
G - gnostic (NOS-tik)
H - honor (ON-er)
I - ingenue (AN-zhuh-noo)
J - jalapeno (hah-luh-PEYN-yoh)
K - knife (nahyf)
L - llano (YAH-naw)
M - mnemonic (ni-MON-ik)
N - nigeria (nahy-JEER-ee-uh)
O - opossum (POS-uhm)
P - phrenology (fri-NOL-uh-jee)
Q - quran (koo-RAHN)
R - Rhone (rohn)
S - sent
T - tsar (zahr)
U - umbilical (uhm-BIL-i-kuhl)
V - verisimilitude (ver-uh-si-MIL-i-tood)
W - whole (hohl)
X - Xerox (ZEE-rox)
Y - Ysolde (ee-ZAWL-duh)
Z - zakat (zuh-KHAT)

1 comment:

sf said...

This would make a funny "kids" book. They would all be staring wide-eyed at read-aloud time --- thinking "WHAAAT???"