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How to pronounce ICAO, correctly? Civil Aviation students claim that their teacher told them to pronounce it as

/ˌaɪˌkeɪˈoʊ/, eye-KAY-oh

but when I look at Cambridge Dictionary it pronounces ICAO differently: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/icao

So, how do you pronounce it correctly in Aviation?

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  • $\begingroup$ This question is mine :) I couldn't delete it. I thought that SE network will automatically join the accounts when I write there my email, but it didn't :) $\endgroup$ – garakchy Nov 16 at 10:22
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    $\begingroup$ @garakchy See aviation.stackexchange.com/help/merging-accounts $\endgroup$ – PerlDuck Nov 16 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ It seems you are presuming, that the Civil Aviation Instructors are teaching the pronunciation the wrong way? $\endgroup$ – mike Nov 17 at 14:55
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I have usually seen people in the industry pronounce it as eye-kay-oh. Technically, the correct way would be to pronounce the letters individually as per the English language which is why the dictionary has that but I have never seen anyone pronounce it that way.

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    $\begingroup$ "Technically, the correct way would be to pronounce the letters individually" – Do you have a source for that? I don't think anyone would say that technically, the correct pronunciation of NASA is "en-a-es-a." $\endgroup$ – Terran Swett Nov 16 at 13:43
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    $\begingroup$ It's an abbreviation and not an actual word, so pronouncing it as a word doesn't really have a correct way... but saying the individual letters of the abbreviation should be correct. Just like the NYPD is not called "nyeped" or the CIA is not called "chia" or something. $\endgroup$ – Jan Nov 16 at 17:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Jan It often depends on how pronounceable an abbreviation is. "NASA", "ICAO" and "IATA" work pretty well, "FBI" and "NYPD" don't. Sometimes people get creative: the computer database language "SQL" (structured query language) is often pronounced "sequel". $\endgroup$ – PerlDuck Nov 16 at 18:07
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    $\begingroup$ ICAO pronounces it eye-kay-oh on their own YouTube channel in English, so I wouldn't say that the organization's own pronunciation is technically incorrect. I don't know how that applies to all countries or languages though; ICAO has other official acronyms for other languages like OACI in French and Spanish plus Cyrillic (apparently a transliteration of ICAO rather than a translation), Arabic (also a transliteration), and Chinese, as shown in ICAO Emblem and its History. $\endgroup$ – Zach Lipton Nov 18 at 4:55
  • $\begingroup$ @PerlDuck that'd depend on which database engine you're using. Oracle users traditionally say Sequel, DB/2 users S Q L, for example. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Nov 18 at 13:15
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American aviators reference it as Eye-Kay-Oh. If you speak in English to folks in the Aviation industry, they will immediately understand Eye-Kay-Oh. On the contrary, if you said "Eye - See - Eh - Oh", you will probably get a quizzical expression.

If you are working in a French (or alternative) language environment, then perhaps they may reference the organization differently.

Stick with your aviation instructors - they know what they are doing.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've never heard it stated anything other than in full correct spelling out of every single letter. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Nov 18 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ Are you an American Aviator? What is your background? Just trying to understand in the context of the question. $\endgroup$ – tmptplayer Nov 19 at 1:29

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