Yes, Elon Musk, the tech entrepreneur, has named his son X Æ A-12. No, I don’t know how to pronounce it either. For a man whose children bear names that include Griffin, Kai and Nevada, it would be difficult, you’d think, to seem more unconventional, but he’s managed it. His girlfriend, the Canadian singer Grimes, surfaced on Twitter to explain the name:
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; (A=Archangel, my favorite song).
There is a way to stop this kind of thing. It is by holding fast to two principles espoused in France. The present one is that no child’s name should be contrary to his or her interests. But prior to 1993, the French still held to the fine Napoleonic law which maintained that French children had to be named after saints in the calendar; proper Christian names. With due allowances for adherents of other faiths, this should remain the rule.
As the Golden Legend – Jacobus de Voragine’s 13th-century compendium of saints’ lives – makes clear, all names have their own etymology and significance; indeed, he starts off each of his lives with an explanation of what the name means, and why the saint embodies it. But the names themselves are sound, hallowed by tradition, with a proper feast day to celebrate, and an exemplar for the child to follow. Bring back the Napoleonic code for names, and no child would ever again be named after a misspelling, an aircraft and an unknown variable. Bring back Christian names.
Wilfred, for instance.
Picture: Elon Musk with newborn X Æ A-12. Credit: Elon Musk/Twitter
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