Amateur radio tip of the day: DXers have their own set of phonetics

While it’s always appropriate to use the standard NATO phonetics, DXers have their own set of phonetics. For example, you will often here “Mexico” instead of “Mike” or “Honolulu” instead of “Hotel.” This is especially true in DX contests. So, if a DX station doesn’t seem to understand the NATO phonetics, give the “DXer phonetics” a try.

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  1. Is there a list of recommended alternate phonetics? I know some of the standard like Italy for I and Germany for G.

    To give some perspective, during a recent contest, I was working a state side station with a relatively strong signal. I would call out phonetically, November Eight Yankee Quebec X-ray, but the DX station kept on hearing November Eight Nancy Quebec X-ray. Eventually, DX understood that I was using standard phonetics, and understood my call sign.

    So, what would be an appropriate alternative for Yankee? I’ve heard other stations use Yokohama. I speak fluent Japanese, but Yokohama is a mouthful under high stress condition. Perhaps I can use Nancy Eight Young Queen X-ray as an alternative?

    Looking forward to your input.


    • Dan KB6NU says:

      Good question. I just Googled “alternate phonetics for DX” and came up with AC6V’s page, Ham Radio DX Phonetics. I hadn’t seen this list before, but it looks like a pretty good list. Unfortunately, “Yokohama” is the only alternative listed for “Yankee.” It is a mouthful, but maybe that’s what makes it understandable.

      • Update:
        I ran into another DX station (this time a real DX) that heard Nancy instead of Yankee. Not surprising as my signal was down in the mud at 5 and 2. Anyway, when he came back to me, I tried Yokohama instead, and he got it right right away.

        So, based on this limited data set, it looks like Yokohama is a viable alternative to Yankee.


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