[XeTeX] Pronunciation of "XeTeX" in various languages

Robert Spence spence at saar.de
Wed Feb 21 15:03:56 CET 2007

Lately I've been spending so much time telling people about the  
advantages of XeTeX that I'm starting to wonder whether I'm  
pronouncing the name correctly.

I guess that in English the preferred pronunciation---based on  
Knuth's instructions on page 1 of The TeXbook to pronounce "TeX" so  
as to rhyme with "blecchhh"---would be something like /'zi:.tɛx/,  
with a voiceless velar fricative at the end.  But what about the  

In German I usually say /'kse:.tɛç/, with a voiceless palatal  
fricative at the end, corresponding to the pronunciation of "TeX"  
that German-speaking TeX users seem to use --- is that correct?  I  
guess speakers of Swiss German would have no problem with the  
voiceless velar fricative, as in "ach", but with one exception, all  
German-speaking TeX users I've encountered so far seem to use the  
voiceless palatal fricative, as in "ich".  The one exception was a  
young East German student in early 1990, who read Knuth's Greek  
letters as Cyrillic, and thus arrived at the pronunciation /'tjɛx/.

And what about French?
Do French-speaking TeX users usually pronounce "TeX" with a /x/ at  
the end or a /k/?
One of the nicest things about Jürgen Vogel's recent screen portrayal  
of Frederick the Great of Prussia was the way he pointedly addressed  
J.S. Bach as (French) /'bak/, not (German) /'bax/.
And is the first sound of "XeTeX" the sound of "x" in  
"xylophone" [gz] or the sound of "x" in "xénophobe" [ks]?

Any other observations about current pronunciation practice in other  

-- Rob Spence
Applied Linguistics
Saarland University

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