Elon Musk and Grimes left the world dumbfounded when they announced the name of their newborn son: X Æ A-12 Musk. While Grimes offered fans an explanation about the meaning of the name, the pronunciation — and legality — of X Æ A-12 remains questionable.
The California Department of Public Health Vital Records Handbook explains the requirements for completing a birth certificate: "The form is to be completed using the 26 alphabetical characters of the English language," the handbook says. Some punctuation symbols are allowed when necessary, like in a hyphenated last name or one with an apostrophe.
However, using numbers is not allowed under those rules, and using pictures, like an emoji or ideogram, in a name is expressly forbidden.
According to California law, diacritical marks like accents, tildes, graves, umlauts, and cedillas are allowed on vital records like birth certificates. This rule was actually added in 2017, after many people complained that without those marks on birth certificates, names that use them were recorded incorrectly, the Sacramento Bee reports.
It appears that only some parts of X Æ A-12 Musk's name are valid — the X, the A, and the hyphen. The 12 would not be allowed under state rules, and the two-letter combination Æ is also not a standard character in the English alphabet.
It is unclear if Musk and Grimes are going to amend the baby's name, or if this is really what they even wrote on the birth certificate.
•X, the unknown variable ⚔️— ꧁ ༒ Gℜiꪔ⃕es ༒꧂ 🍓🐉🎀 小仙女 (@Grimezsz) May 6, 2020
•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 🤍
(A=Archangel, my favorite song)
(⚔️🐁 metal rat)
After the couple shared X Æ A-12, Twitter was flooded with fans wondering how it was pronounced and what it meant. Grimes, the singer whose real name is Claire Elise Boucher, tweeted an explanation that still left some people scratching their heads.
"X, the unknown variable," she wrote. "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 + (A=Archangel, my favorite song) ( metal rat)," her tweet continued.
Still, it is unclear how to pronounce this series of symbols and letters that somehow constitutes a baby name. "Thanks this didn't help at all," one person replied to Grimes' explanation on Twitter.
On Thursday, Musk actually explained how to pronounce the name while on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. The Tesla founder explained, "So, it's just X, the letter x, and then the Æ is pronounced Ash."
Musk's contribution to the name is A-12, which is an ode to the Archangel 12, the "precursor to SR-71, the coolest plane ever." So according to Musk, his son's name is X Ash Archangel Twelve.