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The Q codes are a set of three-letter codes that were originally used as an aid in the communication between maritime mobile radio operators who didn't share each other's language. Nowadays, they are used mostly by radio amateurs, most of whom understand English, but need to express themselves in a short and concise manner.

The meaning of the Q codes can be modified by suffixes. Most or all Q codes can be turned into questions by appending a question mark (on radiotelephony, the words Romeo Quebec (RQ) are used instead. Thus "QRL" (I am busy), but "QRL?" (are you busy?). Some of them can also get an affirmative or negative meaning, by suffixing them with "C" (pronounced as Charlie) or "NO" (pronounced as no), respectively. For example, "QRP" (decrease transmitter power), but "QRPNO" (don't decrease transmitter power).

Most of the Q codes can be found in ITU Recommendation M. 1172. There are literally hundreds of them, all beginning with the letter Q, but only a small portion of them are used by radio amateurs on a regular basis. These include:

QRG
Will you tell me my exact frequency (or that of ...)?
Your exact frequency (or that of ...) is ... kHz (or MHz).
QRL
Are you busy?
I am busy (or I am busy with ...). Please do not interfere.
QRM
Are you being interfered with?
I am being Interfered with
(1. nil
2. slightly
3. moderately
4. severely
5. extremely).
QRN
Are you troubled by static?
I am troubled by static
(1. nil
2. slightly
3. moderately
4. severely
5. extremely).
QRO
Shall I increase transmitter power?
Increase transmitter power.
QRP
Shall I decrease transmitter power?
Decrease transmitter power.
QRQ
Shall I send faster?
Send faster (... words per minute).
QRS
Shall I send more slowly?
Send more slowly (... words per minute).
QRT
Shall I stop sending?
Stop sending.
QRV
Are you ready?
I am ready.
QRZ
Who is calling me?
You are being called by ... (on ... kHz (or MHz)).
QSB
Are my signals fading?
Your signals are fading.
QSL
Do you acknowledge receipt?
I acknowledge receipt.
QSO
Can you communicate with ... direct (or by relay)?
I can communicate with ... direct (or by relay through ...).
QSY
Shall I change to transmission on another frequency?
Change to transmission on another frequency (or on ... kHz (or MHz)).
QTH
What is your position in latitude and longitude (or according to any, other indication)?
My position is ... latitude, ... longitude (or according to any other indication).

Radio amateurs also use Q codes in the middle of sentences as if they were ordinary words. Together with morse code abbreviations this makes their speech totally incomprehensible to casual onlookers:

I finally got a QSO after listening on the wrong QRG for two weeks!
I finally made a contact after listening on the wrong frequency for two weeks!
I enjoy working portable QRP.
I enjoy taking my equipment with me on trips, and make contacts using low power.
There's a little bit QRM in the background at my QTH, please repeat the last thing you said.
I can't hear what you're saying, my wife is yelling at me!

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