[XeTeX] Pronunciation of "XeTeX" in various languages

Robert Spence spence at saar.de
Wed Feb 21 23:43:56 CET 2007

On 21 Feb 2007, at 21:44 , Bruno Voisin wrote:

> Thinking about it a bit more, I would say you're right: x is usually
> pronounced /gz/, as in "exercice", while /ks/ would rather be written
> cc, as in "accessoire". A notable exception is the Greek letter xi,
> pronounced as /ksi/, but usually the transliteration "ksi" is used in
> French texts instead of the ISO "xi".
> My dictionary, though, says the same as yours: for some words it's /
> gz/, and for others /ks/. I must admit I've never heard the second
> used, but it may be just a matter of having trained ears. I know some
> people who tell there's a difference in the ways "brun" and "brin"
> are pronounced, but I never noticed any myself.

My mother was taught at highschool in Australia in the early 1940s  
that there was a difference, but my highschool teachers there in the  
late 1960s told me there was no difference.  At university I was told  
that (strictly speaking) my mother's teachers had been right, not  
mine.  I think the difference has died out everywhere except on the  
stage, so your native-speaker feeling is right and my university  
lecturers were pedants.

But this raises an interesting possibility.  Instead of worrying  
about the difficult initial and final consonants in "XeTeX", we  
should be worrying about the vowels, which are really far too  
simple!  I propose we nasalize them, and adopt the Polish spelling  
"XęTęX".  (In French orthography the "ę" would be pronounced  
something like "hein", I think.)

-- Rob Spence
Applied Linguistics
Saarland University

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