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Elon Musk and Grimes Name Their Baby “X Æ A-12”; Is That Even Legal?

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Most soon-to-be-parents choose a name for a special reason. They like the way it sounds (first and last name) or it reminds them of something they like. It might be a family name. Even pop culture plays a role—after Disney released Aladdin in 1992, the girl’s name ‘Jasmine’ boomed in popularity!

There have been no shortage of oddities when it comes to famous baby names. You might remember when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their daughter ‘Apple.’ Well, that’s got nothing on Elon Musk and Grimes. On May 4, 2020 they welcomed little baby X Æ A-12 into the world.

If you’re like me, your first thought was probably along the lines of, “what?” followed closely by, “is that even legal?”

As it turns out, naming your baby X Æ A-12 probably isn’t legal—but not for the reasons you might think! As it turns out, the couple has already changed the baby’s name slightly, to X Æ A-Xii, replacing the “12” with roman numerals “Xii.” How does that make it any better?

According to California State law, a person can’t have an alphanumeric name—only alpha characters count. The reason? When it comes to entering the name in government databases (like a birth registry or someday at the DMV), these systems only support the 26 letters of the alphabet and basic punctuation, like a dash or apostrophe.

That’s right: the name isn’t problematic because it’s cryptic and wildly unpronounceable. It’s problematic because government databases don’t support numbers in a name. Wild!

Speaking of pronunciation, how exactly do you say the baby’s name? Well, there are some theories on that, as well. Here’s what mama Grimes had to say about the naming convention:

  • X, the unknown variable
  • Æ, my elven spelling of Ai (love &/or Artificial intelligence)
  • A-12, the precursor to SR-71 (our favorite aircraft)

That still doesn’t shed much light on the pronunciation, though. In an interview with Joe Rogan on his podcast, papa Musk clarified a little, explaining, “it’s just X, the letter X. And then the Æ is, like, pronounced ‘ash.”

The clarification about how to pronounce baby Musk’s name hasn’t stopped people from interpreting their own pronunciations. Some of the most prominent theories around the web indicate that the spelling could be a purposeful overcomplication of some very run-of-the-mill names. For example, one theory surmised that the baby’s name is actually ‘Kyle,’ based on a dissection of each part of X Æ A-12:

  • X, for the Greek letter chi, pronounced “ki”
  • Æ, pronounced “ai” (like Grimes said in her tweet)
  • A-12, refers to the 12th letter of the alphabet, “L”

Elon Musk and Grimes have since debunked all other interpretations, but it has to make you wonder. Does ‘Kyle’ make more sense than pronouncing it ‘ex-ash-ay-twelve’?”

As far as baby names go, this is by far the most inventive and creative I’ve ever heard. Will it stay that way? There’s already been one change, it’s not improbable that there will be another. What’s for certain is that this is certainly not the last seemingly bizarre child’s name we’ll come across in our lifetime.

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