By now you’ve probably seen that SpaceX founder Elon Musk and partner musician Grimes have welcomed a baby with an unusual name, but have you heard it?
Speculation about how to pronounce bouncing baby X Æ A-12 has been rife, as has the meaning behind it – and whether it’s even legal as a moniker. Now, Musk and Grimes have revealed the pronunciation of the name and cleared it all up – sort of. OK, no not really at all. It appears, even they don’t agree on how to say the name.
Grimes explained on Twitter on May 6 the meaning behind the name, which, to the casual observer is just a bunch of letters and numbers, but obviously has significance for the new parents.
"X, the unknown variable, Æ, my elven spelling of Ai (love &/or Artificial intelligence), A-12 = precursor to SR-17 (our favorite aircraft). No weapons, no defenses, just speed. Great in battle, but non-violent," she wrote.
Musk confirmed this while correcting the new mom, writing: "SR-71, but yes".
So, we have the meaning, but how do we say it?
Well, Grimes has actually cleared that up, too. Responding to questions about the pronunciation of the unusual moniker on Instagram on Thursday, she explained: "It's just X, like the letter X. Then A.I. Like how you said the letter A then I."
No mention of the A-12, though.
That's where Musk comes in – and confuses things.
Speaking on an episode of Joe Rogan's podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, also released on Thursday, Musk offered a slightly different articulation.
Rogan jumps straight into the interview with the question on everybody's lips: "How do you say the name?" Following up with the slightly more cheeky, "Is it a placeholder?"
Musk answered that it was mostly Grimes who came up with the name, though he did make a contribution.
"I mean it's just X, the letter X," Musk said. "And then the AE is like pronounced 'ash'... yeah... and then A-12 is my contribution."
According to Musk, it was in honor of the Archangel 12 plane, the precursor to the SR-71, which the Tesla Chief Executive described as "the coolest plane ever." The Archangel 12 was a CIA supersonic reconnaissance aircraft built by the Lockheed Corporation. The SR-71, or "Blackbird", was Lockheed's follow-up long-range, high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by both the United States Air Force and NASA. It was retired in 1998.
Unfortunately, Musk didn't go so far as to say the name aloud, though. His version suggests "X-ash-A-twelve", but Grimes' explanation that Æ is pronounced like AI, and the omission of A-12 (sorry Elon) would make it "X-AI".
But, is all this moot anyway? According to California law, where the new parents live and it's thought little X Æ A-12 was born, names on birth certificates are only permitted to feature “the 26 alphabetical characters of the English language”.
So perhaps Musk and Grimes are trolling us and their child has a perfectly legally acceptable moniker after all. Either way, the couple are at liberty to call their offspring whatever they like, and while the general public spends hours dissecting it, they're hardly ones to judge. In 2017, 141 children, and then in 2018 another 109, were named Tesla.