Monday, December 19, 2005

Jargon as a window to culture

In my job as a customer service rep, I often need to spell a word clearly to somebody. I had a vague remembrance of some kind of spoken alphabet (perhaps dating from the days of military radio), alpha bravo charlie, etc.

If you have a Palm PDA and just want an easy reminder, here's a link where you can download AlphaBravo v.1 by Nathan Hjermstad. Basically, his version is:

Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta Echo Foxtrot Golf Hotel India Juliet Kilo Lima Mike
November Oscar Papa Quebec Romeo Sierra Tango Uniform Victor Whiskey Xray Yankee Zulu

I've altered his alphabet a bit, partly because "Charlie" seems like an odd choice to me, since it doesn't begin with the typical sound that C has:
alpha bravo carton delta echo foxtrot golf hotel India Juliette kilo laughter minor november Omaha paper Quebec Romeo Sierro tango uniform victor window xray yankee zebra

It might be fun to develop special alphabets:
Acura Beamer Cadillac Dodge Edsel Ford...

or algerian battenberg (or bargello, or broderie perse, or Belgian) cartridge-pleated (or cutwork)... gobelin honiton (or Holbein)...needlepoint...ruching...tatting...venice...

But before I found the alphabet I'd been seeking, I googled "alpha bravo" and turned up this interesting link about jargon used by Viet Nam vets.

Glossary of Viet Nam jargon

Which reminded me that I have a CD of Viet Nam era military songs -- which bear, not surprisingly, a strong resemblance to a few songs my Dad sang from World War II. The CD is called "In Country: Folk Songs of Americans in the Vietnam War" from Flying Fish Records, available at Amazon.

This is apparently not the only CD compilation of Vietnam-war-era songs.

From a post on I read, "Another interesting collection of military music, not Vietnam, is a CD available through a former SF Medic in Vietnam, Michael McCann. His website is"

Now I need to dig further into some World War II sites, so I can understand some of the slang used in Nevil Shute's REQUIEM FOR A WREN, which I heard recently as an audio book. What was a bishop, for instance? In context, they might have been some kind of tank -- involved in frontline activity during D-Day.

-- Rachel

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Save traditional music & lore

save traditional music & lore
Originally uploaded by net2photos.
Here's a photo of me (the one in glasses) and my coworker Andres Galvis. Folk music has always been a love of mine, and I am excited by the opportunity to store it in digital formats.

Search FLICKR for "netsquared" and "net2" for more photos about our project to change the world.

-- Rachel