Galina Mihaylova & Anton Ivanov

Ham Radio Language

Ham is the popular name for a radio amateur.

Hams address each other exclusively by first name (or nickname), never by Mr., Miss, Mrs., or by last name. This is also valid for written correspondence between hams. The use of 1 liter unit in no case means disrespect, on the contrary.

Hamster etiquette requires that we greet each other by our “literacy” of 73 (NOT “best 73” NOR “many 73”) rather than sincere or other such formal expressions.

If you were a CB operator before, erase the CB language from your memory and learn the amateur radio idioms (jargon, slang) instead. As a member of the ham community, you will be expected to use typical ham expressions to help you fully integrate into it.

During on-air contact, use Q-code correctly.

Avoid continuous and excessive use of Q-code on telephony. You can also use standard expressions that everyone will understand.

But some Q-codes, by the way, have become standard expressions even in telephony, for example:

QRG frequency
QRM interference
QRN atmospheric noise (from static discharges)
QRP child, also small power
QRT stop working
QRV I’m ready, I’m available
QRX one moment
QRZ who’s calling me?
QSB fading
QSL (card) radio connection confirmation card
QSL confirm
QSO contact, radio link
QSY change frequency
QTH location (city, village)

Besides this small number of Q codes in general use in telephony, there are other abbreviations borrowed from CW that have also become in general use in telephony, such as 73, 88, OM (old friend), YL (girl, miss), etc. n.

Use only international phonetic correspondence when spelling the words. Avoid fantasies that may sound funny or amusing in your language, but which will prevent your correspondent from understanding what you are saying. Do not use different words to phonetically pronounce (spell) the same sentence. Example: “CQ dis is LZ1UN, lima zulu one uniform november, lima zanzibar one united nations…”

The most commonly used language by radio amateurs is, without a doubt, English. If you want to make radio communications with the entire world, most of your communications will most likely be in English. Of course, it goes without saying that if two lovers speak the same language other than English, they can converse in that language.

Making a Morse Code (CW) radio call is entirely possible without speaking a single word of your QSO partner’s language.

It is clear that the hobby can be a great tool for learning and practicing foreign languages. You will always find someone on the ranges who will be happy to help you in the new language.

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