In my previous post, I discussed an instance when I did not understand someone in Singapore. How about cases when someone did not understand me?
Today, there was a case when I was trying to spell out my surname, and I started D E T ..., but the woman wrote T E D. What caused this?
The problem probably arose because of variable voicing and aspiration on plosives. My /d/ is voiceless but unaspirated, while my /t/ is voiceless and fully aspirated. But many people in this part of the world have fully voiced /d/ and unaspirated /t/, which means that for them my /d/ may sound like a /t/; and they may not pick up the aspiration on my /t/.
What is of further interest is how to resolve this misunderstanding. My usual strategy is to use the international radiotelephonic alphabet: Delta Echo Tango ... But some people are not familiar with this code. In this instance when I tried to resolve the issue, the woman starting writing Delta ... So that didn't work.
I have always thought it would be really valuable if everyone learned the international code, to facilitate spelling out names and other words. But that doesn't seem to be happening.
On the other hand, I believe the local custom is to use country names: Denmark England Thailand etc. And maybe I should remember to do that.