Before the nation rose up in protest two weeks ago, the 24/7 news cycle was Covid-19. Here and there an occasional "infotainment" story caught my eye. The announcement that Elon Musk and his partner the Canadian artist Grimes had welcomed a new baby was a fun distraction. I was especially intrigued by their son's name -- X Æ A-12.
Episode 9 of my Stairwell Teatre talks about Baby Musk's name but also about the fact that under California law, Spanish names with accents -- like Lucía and José -- will NOT be entered correctly in the child's birth certificate. Attempts to change the state's law to allow accents on names have been unsuccessful. Shameful given that such a large percentage of our state's residents have these very names, and that for thirty years after it became a state, Californa was a fully bilingual English-Spanish state with all laws published in both languages. So if you are an O'Toole, your name gets the apostrophe but if you are a Rendón, no accent on your name.
But back to X Æ A-12. Elon Musk and Grimes announced their son's arrival in a tweet. Born on May 4th and may The Force be with him. The question in everyone's mind: Just how exactly do you say this name? Musk shared the pronunciation in Joe Rogan’s podcast, click here to have a listen. No question, it was rude of Rogan to laugh out loud when Musk said the name and Musk's expression of . . . yeah, I know . . . is priceless. Musk noted that the name was mostly Grimes' creation. And Grimes let the world know what the name meant to her on social media.
Of course, we don't know if XÆA-12 really is the child’s name or if this is their idea of a media prank or part of Grimes' performance art.
No doubt that this name will run afoul of California law which requires that names be written using only the 26 letters of the English Alphabet and does not allow numbers (12), symbols (Æ) diacritical marks (accents). pictograms. or ideograms.
Grimes more recently announced via Instagram that the name had been changed slightly to XÆA-Xii. Although asked, she did not confirm that the change was due to the state rejecting the use of numbers. Since they kept the Æ which is a symbol (and not allowed), the new name is still unlikely to get the go-ahead.
As mentioned in this video of my Stairwell Teatro, when the journalist, Louis Freedberg, and his wife Alina named their daughter Lucía, the name was rejected because of the accent mark over the í. The full story is in this Op-Ed piece published in the San Francisco Chronicle. Click here to read.
Another very interesting read is the law review article by the University of California at Davis Law Professor Carlton Larson. This is the very first law review I loved reading. Rarely (if ever) has anyone said they loved reading a law review article. Non-lawyers will also find the article accessible, informative, and downright entertaining. I promise. Money-back guarantee. Click here to read Naming Baby: The Constitutional Dimensions of Parental Naming Rights. The article has some information about laws in other countries as well, and that information is most interesting and highlights how different things are in the United States.
Another interesting read is this article from the BBC about countries that regulate baby names. Click here to get the full scoop..
AND finally, I’ll be on MarshStream this Thursday evening, June 11th from 7:30-8:30 pm (Pacific) speaking about using my solo work to fight racism and promote social justice. I hope you can join us. Click here for more information and to access the Zoom link.
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