November 27, 2021

Skipping Xi and going straight to Omicron — I'd have made the same decision if it were up to me.

I'm reading "WHO skips two letters in Greek alphabet in naming Omicron COVID variant" (NY Post).
The World Health Organization appeared to skip two letters in the Greek alphabet when it announced Friday the name for the latest coronavirus variant.... Nu and Xi were apparently the next letters in the Greek alphabet that have yet to be used for a variant....

Internet pundits and politicians speculated that the group skipped Nu to avoid confusion with the word “new” and passed on Xi because of its written similarity to the name of Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) retweeted a Telegraph editor who cited a WHO source saying Xi was skipped to “avoid stigmatizing a region.” “If the WHO is this scared of the Chinese Communist Party, how can they be trusted to call them out next time they’re trying to cover up a catastrophic global pandemic?”....

Wall Street Journal language columnist Ben Zimmer had a different take. “Kudos to the WHO for skipping over the potentially confusing Nu and Xi names and going straight to Omicron”....

If you think not using "Xi" was about undue deference to Xi Jinping, I challenge you to pronounce "Xi," not the Chinese leader's name, but the Greek letter. After you get that right, imagine audio reports about the virus that use that bizarre sound and millions of people trying to understand what they are hearing. 

If you get that far and still think WHO should have proceeded through the Greek alphabet in order, imagine all the reports of the "Nu virus" and assert with a straight face that that would have worked out well. 

Now, good for you, you've achieved peak Cruzosity!

120 comments:

tim maguire said...

What’s the phonetic pronunciation? I’m pronouncing it “zee” and I don’t see the issue. “Zee virus.” Is that supposed to be disrespectful towards Italians?

mezzrow said...

Ted Cruz forgot that there's nothing so attractive as an opportunity you should probably turn down. Let's see if Chairman Xi uses this as an opportunity to claim anti-Han bias.

Such an interesting world.

tim in vermont said...

What a rationalization.

Students of mathematics have been using the English language pronunciations of these letters for as long as the subject has been taught in English. And ditto for English speakers with the ChiCom emperor's name as long as it has been known to the West. It's a coincidence that English speakers pronounce both the same way. Maybe law professors never study math, physics, or engineering, and so never encountered these Greek letters that are used all of the time with anglicized pronunciations.

Imagine studying statistics and going to the language lab to listen to tapes with headphones so that you could learn to properly pronounce σ in the authentically Greek manner. Does that sound absurd to the professor? Because it sounds absurd to me.

Big Mike said...

Some people pronounce the fourteenth letter of the Greek alphabet with a slight ‘k’ sound before the drawn out, sibilant ‘z’ sound, most others don’t. Is that what you are alluding to, Professor?

Nevertheless I assume Ted Cruz is correct. He usually is.

rehajm said...

If you think not using "Xi" was about undue deference to Xi Jinping, I challenge you to pronounce "Xi," not the Chinese leader's name, but the Greek letter. After you get that right, imagine audio reports about the virus that use that bizarre sound and millions of people trying to understand what they are hearing.

… ‘of course’ what Ann meant to say is when “Xi” is written in English the two are identical in appearance and WHO broke protocol to avoid any offense to Chinese leadership…

tim in vermont said...

Law: All taxonomy is political.

Corollary: You can generally infer from taxonomic decisions who holds the power.

In this case, the person is Xi.

Lem Ozuna from the Braves said...

Xi Jinping breathes a sigh of relief.

tim in vermont said...

Imagine Althouse working at a hamburger stand, and refusing service to French people because they can't pronounce their order properly.

David Begley said...

Oh, Ann! Occam’s Razor.

Those fucking corrupt WHO bureaucrats skipped Xi because they didn’t want to offend the fucking criminal leader of fucking Commie China who started this fucking disaster. And intentionally I might add.

Who cares if the fucking idiot news readers on TV pronounced it correctly?

Fucking China owes us $30T and the fucking idiot Joe Biden does nothing! The whole world should gang up on China and punish those criminal fucks. Tariffs on everything! Make them pay!

Mike Sylwester said...

Statements of Joe Biden when he was running for President:

---

Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States.

---

If the President had done his job, had done his job from the beginning, all those people would still be alive.

---

The distribution of that vaccine will not occur until ... the middle of next year [2021] to get it out, if we get the vaccine.

======

COVID deaths in 2020 = 220,000

COVID deaths in 2021 = 350,000

Temujin said...

Honestly. I think we could have handled both Nu and Xi. The Chinese and their WHO division, along with their paid folk at the NY Times obviously could not. So they like to project their insecurity (or in the case of the CCP- their security) onto us.

Virtually everyone on earth knows where the virus came from, and that the Chinese sent their infected populace around the world even as they shut down Wuhan domestically. Everyone in the world knows that China has refused to allow an actual serious investigation of the lab leak. Everyone knows that China sat on the virus for weeks before letting the world know about it. Everyone in the world now understands that the NIH funded and worked with the Wuhan Institute of Virology to develop gain of function research on the most amazing of all coronaviruses- the most deadly one they could find. Everyone knows this with a couple of large exceptions.

The W.H.O., the NY Times. WaPo. Oh sure, there used to be people at the Times who knew this, but they've either left or were asked to leave. What a paper.

We could have handled Nu and Xi. My God, given time, people would have even learned the Greek Alphabet pronunciations. That's what people do. It does not require a degree from Columbia 'J' School to understand such things.

I'm so freakin tired of the assumptions made by our betters.

Original Mike said...

I use the greek alphabet all the time in my stargazing and I always have trouble pronouncing Xi. Yet, anyone who doubts skipping Xi was not influenced by its resemblance to the Chinese leader's name, well, I have a bridge you might like to see.

I also don't think we should treat people like dummies. It's condescending, as well as missing a chance to educate. The new variant's name should have been Nu.

Big Mike said...

What’s the phonetic pronunciation? I’m pronouncing it “zee”

The ‘z’ sound should be drawn out, and the letter, as pronounced, rhymes with “eye.” Sort of like “zzz-eye.”

Commentator rehajm, and Ted Cruz, are probably correct. Frankly, as Billy Shakespeare would say, it’s much ado over nothing. Names are just labels. If calling it omicron offends you then call it boogleplutz. It changes nothing about the biological structure, transmissibility, or lethality of the virus.

rhhardin said...

Greek letters named the sexes in "The Planet with 24 Sexes," Mad Magazine I think. They followed a growing group from bar to bar trying to pick up all the necessary participants for a one night stand but couldn't locate a willing Mu. "Mu's are so stand-offish." One of the participants was unwilling to use a Mu-house. "I've never gone to a Mu-house in my life."

Breezy said...

Why wouldn’t it be undue deference to China again? Remember they renamed Wuhan Flu to COVID-19 for that reason! Plus they are using the Greek alphabet because they started down that generic naming road with “COVID” and didn’t want to appear that they were only showing deference to China when the variants appeared.

john mosby said...

Nu is an all purpose Yoddish interjection, kind of like ‘eh’ in Canadian. If the strain had been called Nu, all the reporting would sound like Uncle Max’s Thanksgiving-dinner conversation.

JSM

rehajm said...

Meanwhile, all this whinging deflects from the tragedy of leadership at WHO, who is so politicized they abandoned their primary mission of helping humanity in favor of a compulsion over scoring political points.

Howard said...

More trigger bait for deplorable snowflakes.

Howard said...

I originally thought they skipped Xi because I mistakenly thought that is a sacred non-binary pronoun. If that was the case, then you people would go absolutely apeshit.

gilbar said...

You know (You KNOW) what's missing from the outcry about the new covid
It's lethality (morbidity, what ever you want to call it).
There's a HUGE Hoopla, about how the old vaccines might (or might not) work
There's a HUGE Hoopla, about how "IT'S INCREDIBLY INFECTIOUS ! !! ! )
and there is deafening silence about if it will put ANYONE in the hospital

Remember Covid-19 (of COURSE you do!) it was first called a "Novel Corona Virus"
Why?
Because there are LITERALLY Zillions of Corona Viruses. Covid-19 was caused by a new mutation
So, what they're talking about Now, is the Novel Novel (Novelist?) Corona Virus
Will it be deadlier?
Not the way viruses worked in the past; But past viruses weren't worked by the Chinese Government

gspencer said...

The statement "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize" was falsely attributed to Voltaire, the French Enlightenment philosopher.

We now know it came from the Chinese Communist Party.

But,

However, the phrase is believed to originate from an essay by Strom first published in 1993: "All America Must Know the Terror that is Upon Us". He wrote: "To determine the true rulers of any society, all you must do is ask yourself this question: Who is it that I am not permitted to criticize?".

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Alfred_Strom

Andrew said...

Trump had it right: the "China virus." But this name all of a sudden caused Asian-Americans to be attacked by black people, due to white supremacy.

How about when the Greek characters are over, we name the variants after the provinces of China?

holdfast said...

Winnie the Pooh is pleased.

mikee said...

Han shot first, as the saying goes, and as any good CCP member can tell you, the virus is a product of US Broward research, right?

jaydub said...

Xi, usually shortened to X as in NYT crossword puzzles which you obviously know, has always been written and pronounced in English and mathematics as "Chi," e.g. the Chi Omega sorority and the Chi-Square Test. If Mao was still the CCP leader, no one would care if chi was used to describe a Covid variant and it would not have been skipped. Unfortunately, Xi is the current Chinese leader and we just can't remind the plebes that not only did Covid originate in Wuhan China but also it's origins were hidden from the world by the current Chinese CCP leader. I don't know if you are just trying to avoid the Covid origin connection to Xi or just using the opportunity to take a cheap shot at Cruz, but either way you're stretching as regards Xi. Nu might be a different matter.

WK said...

Since we appear to be using the Greek alphabet to name variants looks like we are getting towards the end. Only 9 more and we are done with COVID.

John henry said...

Some of us think that kung flu is a virus designed to target non-chinese people. (world - 668 deaths/mm. China - 3 deaths/mm)

"Xi's New Virus" would be a perfectly correct name.

Some might wish to substitute "bullshit" for virus.

And let's not forget that more Americans have died of kung flu under Brandon than under President Trump

John LGBTQBNY Henry

John henry said...

Btw: those of you who sent DNA samples to Chinese labs (23 and me and others) you owe us all an apology.

You fuckers.

John LGBTQBNY Henry

Achilles said...

Now, good for you, you've achieved peak Cruzosity!

Difference between Z-Eee and Z-Eye made this decision.

Only dumb people would think the WHO avoided Xi to avoid making the leader of the country that produced corona virus upset.

Ted Cruz is a dummy dumb dumb.

Not even near as smart as Ann is.

Ann is way smarter than Ted Cruz and all of his dumb supporters.

ClovisPolar said...

@tim in vermont
Hear hear! It's "kseye" to all English mathematicians and statisticians.

Ann Althouse said...

Jeez, I gave you a link to hear the pronunciation. Why just guess? Any guess is badly wrong, I assure you. The post even tells you the sound is "bizarre." Why on earth would you guess "zee"?!

Ann Althouse said...

Why would you ask "Is that what you are alluding to, Professor?"

Listen to the pronunciation. I gave it to you!

Ann Althouse said...

The fact that NO ONE around here seems to know or even care how to pronounce it is reason alone to skip the damned thing.

DanTheMan said...

It is interesting that every time Covid virus seems to be on the decline, a new variety springs up and instantly there are calls for more lockdowns, masking, and restrictions.
One would think that variations would occur independently in parallel, not serially a few months apart.
Perhaps this is just how viruses work.
Perhaps not.

Humperdink said...

Wasn't the first Covid plague labelled the "Trump virus" by the Dems/media?

andy said...

Here is a much better pronunciation. Go to 4:24 here: https://youtu.be/94B26pJM2fg. The one in the post is off. More like kuh-see

Ann Althouse said...

@ tim in vermont

Could you possibly try to sound like more of a stuck-up asshole?

And whenever you pull the "I'm a scientist" move, you'd better make sure you are right.

This guy seems to think he's scientific and correct and he is verifying the pronunciation in the video I've linked to:

"Greek letters are widely used in mathematics and other fields of science. There are a couple of differences in pronunciation of the names of the letters between English and most other European languages, which is a common source of mistakes. That’s why in the following, I used a notation for pronunciation that should be easy to understand for non-native speakers, but native speakers should do just fine too....

ξ – xi – ksaai (as in sick sigh) or zaai..."

Gahrie said...

Isn't an obsession with aesthetics a signal of the collapse of civilization?

Ann Althouse said...

And if getting the pronunciation right involves acting superior because you studied math and science, then it's offputting to other people... and just at a time when we're trying to keep people up to speed about science. Avoiding "xi" is avoiding confusion and alienation.

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, but I am accused of "rationalizing"... as if there is ANY reason to suspect me of deferring to China. Really, this is indeed peak Cruzosity.

Fernandinande said...

The Greek letters are to be used by the press when it interacts with the peasantry because the real names are too difficult and boring: "Currently designated Variants of Concern"

I challenge you to pronounce "Xi," not the Chinese leader's name, but the Greek letter.

Regular English dictionaries say that it's pronounced "zigh".

tim in vermont said...

"The fact that NO ONE around here seems to know or even care how to pronounce it is reason alone to skip the damned thing."

Rationalizations are getting lamer and more heated. All caps and even an exclamation point.

What if I had to argue that we should just skip Xi...

I guess I would be reduced to saying that it encourages racism against the Chinese Communists. But the purported 'racists' would still be on solid ground, since the 1964 Civil Rights Act specifically excluded communists as protected by it.

https://twitter.com/KweenJosie/status/1464255710183763969

tim in vermont said...

LOL, you linked to an asshole even more stuck up than I am.

Temujin said...

There is nothing tricky to the pronouncement of Xi (as you phonetically put it-Ksaai). As I wrote earlier, we can handle it. People around the world could handle it. However that would not prevent a few million of us from still pronouncing it 'Zhee', as in the General Secretary of the CCP. After all, it's his gift to the world. It would seem appropriate that it be named after him.

Gee...that's a swell thing that they named Ksaai after you Zhee. Don't you agree, Xi?

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I thought Omicron was a brand of wristwatch and it turns out I was right.

Butkus51 said...

Jamie Dimon figured it out quickly. Duck and cower.

Iman said...

It’s Piss n’ Vinegar Saturday!

Iman said...

The Maple Syrup Clyde Crashcup!

narciso said...

from the people that brought you the lockdowns that shot down the world, feely ferguson of imperial college, a variant that has been kicking around since july with no greater virulence,

retail lawyer said...

It would be interesting to watch the TV anchor babes dealing with it, though. I lament the passing of geographical naming. More information in less space is usually good, unless one is trying to hide something.

Scot said...

Heh, when I read "nu", my first thought was it could be confused with the Yiddish "nu". Then I heard it in my head & understood the issue. Still, the Yiddish nu is very flexible depending on how & when it is spoken, much like the English word "so".

Ambrose said...

Maybe they should give them human names - like hurricanes.

andy said...

There seems to be cultural appropriation going on here: take a culture's alphabet, use it for your system, butcher the pronunciation, and teach others to do the same :) While I am joking, Greeks are very proud people and I know several who are offended to hear their language misused. One relative native-speaker for example visited a New Testament Greek class at her church in the Midwest and could not believe that the language was being taught incorrectly.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

First report I saw did call it nu.

MayBee said...

Most people would learn to pronounce it from how they hear it. We must have made it through "Mu" "Chi" and "Eta" (although I don't remember them).
If we're worried that rubes can't pronounce weird names, we should probably just skip the Greek Alphabet naming convention altogether.

hombre said...

Althouse: ‘If you think not using "Xi" was about undue deference to Xi Jinping, I challenge you to pronounce "Xi," not the Chinese leader's name, but the Greek letter.’

This is not significant. Nobody, other than Althouse, is about pronouncing either correctly.

What is significant is that “xi” could become the pronoun for some as yet undisclosed gender choice and therefore must be reserved.

Bruce Hayden said...

“pronounced in English and mathematics as "Chi," e.g. the Chi Omega sorority”

Just to clean this up - they call themselves a Fraternity. Weird, because they only have women. Jen Psaki is a ΧΩ.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, truthfully I had never heard it pronounced with that slight leading ‘k’ sound except in the pronunciation guide to which you linked. I thought I’d be nice in my comment. Learned my lesson. Enough commentators above seem to agree with that slight ‘k’ sound, but in mathematics I have only ever heard it pronounced as I indicated: a drawn out ‘z’ sound then a long ‘i’ (or “eye”). For that matter, in mathematics I have only ever seen it written in its lowercase form, like a backwards ‘3’ with hooks at the upper left and lower right corner.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

... and just at a time when we're trying to keep people up to speed about science.

Wait. What? After a year pretending home made masks stop viruses and that natural or herd immunity are fantasy? WTF?

Mark said...

Let's not get uppity about pronunciation just because they changed the spelling from Chi (k-eye, as in Ch-Rho (with this sign, you shall conquer)) to Xi.

Of course, they could simply use X, but then someone would get into a tiff over pronouncing that as ecks.

Wince said...

Pronounced... sigh.

Mark said...

Of course, Chi is just as problematic.

mikee said...

There are a whole lotta sorority sisters and fraternity brothers who spell the greek letter in question as "Chi" in English and pronounce it like Bruce Willis "yippee kai aye-ing" in that Christmas movie, Die Hard.

Original Mike said...

Blogger Big Mike said..."@Althouse, truthfully I had never heard it pronounced with that slight leading ‘k’ sound except in the pronunciation guide to which you linked. …in mathematics I have only ever heard it pronounced as I indicated: a drawn out ‘z’ sound then a long ‘i’ (or “eye”). For that matter, in mathematics I have only ever seen it written in its lowercase form, like a backwards ‘3’ with hooks at the upper left and lower right corner."

Same here.

Ann Althouse said...

" has always been written and pronounced in English and mathematics as "Chi," e.g. the Chi Omega sorority and the Chi-Square Test"

But "Chi" is a different Greek letter, so that's very confusing, reinforcing the decision to skip it.

And according to that website I linked above, "chi" is pronounced "kaai (as in kite)."

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

What is more disgusting than the abuse of the Greek alphabet is the breathless promotion of these variants because the Left and The DNC-Media so much want a nu reason to order lockdowns, which were tremendously useful in crushing small businesses and American spirits last year. They so wanted Delta to do it. But like other viruses COVID went through many mutations that failed to spread in sufficient numbers to gin up a new panic, although to be fair the experts did their damnedist (sp?) to paralyze us with Delta. It just didn’t kill as many as they hoped. It did what mutations do: spread more quickly but reproduce in lower numbers, thereby doing less damage. This is good news for herd immunity, more exposure and less illness, but bad PR for “no treatment vaccine only” crowd at CDC/NIH and DC. So they lied about Delta calling it “more deadly” and lost more of the Public faith in “science and experts” and the reaction to this latest blizzard of Nu and Xi lies is what I expected from Americans LAST year. We the People have moved on from COVID. We are burnt out even if the last variants haven’t come and gone yet. Like the virus the government is losing effectiveness with each Nu variant.

Original Mike said...

Yes, you have the wrong letter there, Bruce.

Roger Sweeny said...

In Physics, the Greek letter lambda stands for wavelength. Like most physicists, I pronounced it LAMB-duh. But one day, a Greek student told me that in Greece, it was pronounced very differently, LAMH-thah. I told her English speakers often pronounce foreign words differently and we would give it a "physics pronunciation" rather than a Greek pronunciation.

John henry said...



I'm apparently in the wrong line of consulting.

Tristan Jones who wrote a book about sailing down the Danube(?) to the black sea claims to have played bagpipe music through large speakers in lieu of a fog horn.

Jones' idea makes sense. The bike makes me want to shove a stick in his spokes. Total asshole

John LGBTQBNY Henry

andy said...

“Chi” is a different letter - pronunciation is “he” by Greeks

MadTownGuy said...

I'll throw in my educated opinion as a student of languages. Ξ, lowercase ξ, transcribed in English as 'Xi,' is pronounced in ancient and modern Greek as something approximating 'ksee.' If you've heard Cat Stevens' song 'Rubylove,' the line "Έλα ξανά" is pronounced 'EH-la ksa-NA.' Here ends my pedantry.

Whatever the reason for the WHO's skipping Xi and Nu, there's plenty of other evidence that the WHO and the CDC are motivated by political expediency when it comes to the virus. I'm not sure this is the hill I'd want to die defending. On the other hand, it may be like an attorney's statement in court that the judge orders stricken from the record and gives the jury a warning to disregard it. Despite the admonition, it's already out there.

ambisinistral said...

You've marked yourself as somebody who just fell off the back of a turnip truck if you think they skipped over xi because it is hard to pronounce rather than because of Xi Jinping's name.

Yancey Ward said...

So, instead, we get Omigod virus variant.

Yancey Ward said...

This reasoning on why Xi was skipped should be submitted as a congressional district gerrymander.

LA_Bob said...

The pronunciation appears to be "ga zye" rather than "ka sigh", so I'll go with that.

The issue here is that Xi ("ga zye") sounds too much like the German "gesundheit". The Greeks, as someone pointed out, are a proud people and don't want to be confused with the Germans. And of course the written form conflates the variant with the Head Poo-Bah of China. We can't have that as it's geopolitically incorrect (although we won't stop talking about it).

Also, "gesundheit" is German for "health", and we can't confuse a SARS-CoV-2 variant with health or people would stop with the NPI's and the vaccines. Can't have that either.

Finally, it would not be the "Nu" virus. It would be the "Nu" variant. But, as all variants are "Nu" at some point, people would be confused about which "Nu" variant they were discussing.

So, the WHO did the right thing. Just call it "O". As in, "O, NO!"

Yancey Ward said...

I always thought it was the Latin K equivalent, but not sure of that.

The only place in science and math I have encountered the use of this letter is in mathematics in the Xi Reimann function which is related to the better known zeta function.

Yancey Ward said...

WHO knew they had to skip over Xi in naming a new variant, so they decided to try to mask this fact by skipping over two letters instead of just one- it is called plausible deniability.

Al said...

Greek letters named the sexes in "The Planet with 24 Sexes," Mad Magazine I think.

It was titled "Saturday Nite on Antarius. The Planet With 12 different Sexes."
It was drawn by Ed Subitzky and appeared in the National Lampoon.
It's online. Search on the title.

Critter said...

If only COVID variants could be named after white men our ruling class would be happy.

Darkisland said...

Apologies for the Tristan Jones comment. That was apparently stuck in my clipboard since yesterday and I did not notice.

Darkisland said...

Omicron Pi goes very well with leftover turkey.

Sir Omicron Pi to worshipers of british titles.

(Classical reference)

John Henry

Yancey Ward said...

Some wag on the internet pointed out that Omicron is an anagram for moronic. Hat tip to Angle-Dyne.

Rabel said...

The WHO decided to use Greek letters for mutated forms of the virus because they thought the alphanumeric technical designation would be too confusing to the general public (Omicron is formally named B.1.1.529).

Now they've decided that the Greek alphabet is too confusing to the general public.

Judging by the responses here they're right, so I'm just going to suggest that they adopt the meteorological technique of using common names.

The next variant should be called "Jinping" (or "Larry" if my first choice is a problem for some reason).

"Bruce" would be acceptable.

Joe Smith said...

'If you think not using "Xi" was about undue deference to Xi Jinping, I challenge you to pronounce "Xi," not the Chinese leader's name, but the Greek letter.'

It doesn't matter what it sounds like, it matters what it looks like.

90% of people will read it, not hear it pronounced.

Lewis said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ez61mxRLFbw

MayBee said...

WHO spokesman told Jonathan Levine that they avoided Xi so as not to stigmatize anyone with the same name:

Tweet is here

effinayright said...

Wanna see how the Greek Xi is properly pronounced?

Watch this 35 second youtube clip, which lays it all out...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GhbTcoCqR4
************************

An Indian news reader actually pronounced Xi Jinping's name that way, and was fired.

Deevs said...

I have a Physics degree and I'm approaching the conclusion of a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. So, I've done a fair bit of math with a lot of Greek letters. Xi seemed to be one of the lesser used letters in my experience.

The funny thing is, for the life of me, I can't remember how I pronounced it. I think I heard multiple versions, but I don't think I ever heard it like the video Althouse linked. I wouldn't say any of the versions I heard were necessarily correct; I seem to remember everyone scratching their heads on the pronunciation of that one. When I read it now I can't help but read it as it is pronounced in Xi Jinping.

Static Ping said...

Having watched enough Xena the Warrior Princess, pronouncing "Xi" is not all that difficult.

Original Mike said...

"The only place in science and math I have encountered the use of this letter is in mathematics in the Xi Reimann function which is related to the better known zeta function."

Image science. Separation-variable associated with the spatial-variable x in the autocorrelation function.

Not only did I not like pronouncing it, I didn't even like writing it. Too squiggly. It usually came out as a mess.

Narayanan said...

Nu is also in Arabic for Noah of the Arc of Life

Dagwood said...

So how soon do we get to start using letters from the Hebrew alphabet?

rehajm said...

You've marked yourself as somebody who just fell off the back of a turnip truck if you think they skipped over xi because it is hard to pronounce rather than because of Xi Jinping's name.

Forget it. The resident turnip truck diver is having fun with the “doesn’t sound alike” debate…

Narayanan said...

I want to start new squabble about pronunciation

stare decisis => s-tah-ray d[uh]-kee-sis

Romans pronounced c and s differently

Drago said...

Howard: "I originally thought they skipped Xi because I mistakenly thought that is a sacred non-binary pronoun. If that was the case, then you people would go absolutely apeshit."

Howard knows that it is very difficult to keep coming down on the side of the ChiComs on every single matter under the sun and not have everyone notice it, so its better to create a hypothetical that makes him the good guy again.

Recall, Howard bought into the entire lefty mythologies of russia russia russia and the hoax dossier and the hoax "bounties" and the hoax drinking bleach story and the impeachment hoax lies and the Rittenhouse lies and hoaxes and the "no Americans were left behind in Afghanistan" lies and the "there is no inflation" lies, and he has never actually retracted any of those lies.

So, naturally, he's got to gin up more lies to try and cover for all the previous ones.

It keeps him pretty busy.

Drago said...

Dagwood: "So how soon do we get to start using letters from the Hebrew alphabet?"

The virulently anti-semitic WHO/UN/democraticals would never allow it because "Israel".

tds said...

just because skipping ξ was a generally good idea, doesn't mean it was done for those rational reasons

PS. everyone who went through statistics course knows how to write and pronounce ξ, which tells us something about all those journos and anchors having problems

Lewis said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRKNw477onU

Jim at said...

So now people going to line up for their fourth jab.
And then the fifth. And sixth.

Yet, it's those who chose to sit it out who are causing the problems? Who are being denied entrance to venues and events? Who've lost their jobs?

No. We're not.
We never were.

MadTownGuy said...

'Nun' in Arabic has been used pejorative by militant Islamists to mark businesses or homes of Christians or others they consider apostates. It was them taken up by people around the world as a show of solidarity with the people who were so treated.

Symbol of ISIS hate becomes rallying cry for Christians

"When the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS, captured Mosul, one of Iraq's largest cities, militants began singling Christians out. The symbol that marked their homes and businesses -- the Arabic letter "n," which is pronounced "noon" and stands for Nazarene or Nasrani, the Arabic word for Christian -- reportedly was a signal: convert, pay a tax or be killed. Many Christians fled."

"...When I started the #WeAreN hashtag, I certainly didn't know or envision that this was going to be a rallying cry for Christians and others around the word," said [Jeremy] Courtney.

Places like the the Archdiocese of Washington posted it on their Facebook. The Church of England has it on their Twitter feed. More than 22,000 people have also taken to Instagram, posting photos of the Arabic "n" on their hands, faces and clothing with #WeAreN.

"They [ISIS] gave us a logo in which to hang our best hopes for Iraq. Suddenly, now the whole Western world was paying attention," said Courtney.
"

Howard said...

Drago never tires of hauling the kitchen sink around his neck. The short man's burden.

Andrew said...

"Oh, but I am accused of "rationalizing"... as if there is ANY reason to suspect me of deferring to China."

China is buying up the blogs, just like TikTok.

farmgirl said...

Lem said...
Xi Jinping breathes a sigh of relief.
Don’t you mean: Xi of relief?

It BS pandering- no one skips letters if that’s the way things are measured w/out a political reason.

Mikey NTH said...

The law professor reaction is to ask the class to consider, and argue for, any possible conclusion for why an actor made the decision that actor did. Hence all of the possible arguments for why WHO skipped Xi for this variant.

Now, outside of the law school classroom and this salon, WHO skipped Xi because China would have a fit about insulting the Chinese people and maybe they would miss some of that sweet Chinese cash and access to China.

Drago said...

Howard: "Drago never tires of hauling the kitchen sink around his neck. The short man's burden."

Actually I left about 98% of your past lies unitemized.

You're welcome.

Lewis said...

The hat wide and wet, because you'd pissed in in it, - you give to someone else with a knowing smile. A kind of complicity with death, who shine that death-giving grin

Iman said...

Moo Goo Gai Pandemic

LakeLevel said...

Nu... Nu... "no no. you're not doing it properly. It's pronounced "Ni".

Andrew said...

"We are the Knights Who Say 'Xi'!"

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Wall Street Journal language columnist Ben Zimmer had a different take. “Kudos to the WHO for skipping over the potentially confusing Nu and Xi names and going straight to Omicron”....

That's because everyone and the WSJ other than some people at the editorial page are left wing losers.

If you think not using "Xi" was about undue deference to Xi Jinping, I challenge you to pronounce "Xi," not the Chinese leader's name, but the Greek letter.

Gee, so some people will pronounce it 'zhi', and some will pronounce it 'zee'. But everyone will know what we're talking about.

The only reason not to do that is because the "Xi' variant was the first one released.

If you get that far and still think WHO should have proceeded through the Greek alphabet in order, imagine all the reports of the "Nu virus" and assert with a straight face that that would have worked out well.

It's not the "delta virus", it's the "delta variant of Covid". So this would have been the Nu /"new" Covid variant.
Seriously? I've never once seen anyone call it the "Delta virus", it's always "Delta" or "the Delta variant". That argument is truly pathetic.

Sorry, no one's going to have difficulty with calling it the new variant..

Now, good for you, you've achieved peak Cruzosity
Now, you're just engaging in some Cruz Derangement Syndrome (CDS) / "China Suck-up Syndrome".

Bunkypotatohead said...

At the rate the chinkflu is mutating, no one will remember or care what this version is labeled a month from now.
WHO would have done better to just call it version 1.0, version 2.0, etc. Like software companies do.
Or they could call it Vista.

Steve Pitment said...

They could have just called it the Winnie Variant.

gadfly said...

So - what happened to Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta and others not publicized or otherwise were not used as Covid variants?

BTW, back in the good old days, when I was a frat pledge, we learned to say our ABC's in terms of Greek letter names and Omicron was pronounced as a long O. Fox Radio pronounced the word as aw-mic-ron.

gpm said...

Agree with MadTownGuy. Never had much occasion to do so but, since I learned the Greek alphabet over fifty years ago, I've always pronounced it like "ski" with the first two consonants reversed, if I had any reason to do so. Which, in light of the structure and original use of the Greek alphabet, is likely pretty much how the folks that invented/stole the alphabet did, both in reference to the name of the letter itself and how it was pronounced in words. Probably pretty much the same in modern Greek. Doesn't seem that difficult or incomprehensible to me;

Althouse's link for the pronunciation is bogus because it goes to the pronunciation by some British git. The Brits are notorious for using spelling pronunciations to mangle the pronunciation of ancient languages by pretending that words should be pronounced as if they are English words. See, e.g., Goodby Mr. Chips, where Chips is on the wrong side of that issue.

Also agree with Joe Smith that "90% of people will read it, not hear it pronounced," so the whole pronunciation discussion is largely beside the point.

FWIW, I have no idea how the Chinese guy's name is pronounced.

On the other side, Althouse (and one or two others) are completely correct in pointing out that "chi" is a different Greek letter. That letter is only tangentially connected to "in this sign you will conquer," which is an English translation of the Latin (not Greek) phrase "in hoc signo vinces," allegedly seen in a vision by Constantine prior to the battle of the Milvian Bridge, after which Constantine took Rome. The connection is that the Chi Rho was the "sign" that Constantine adopted in his "labarum" (battle standard), representing the first two Greek letters in the Greek word for "Christ." You'd know the Chi Rho if you see it.

I originally thought this whole thing was a made-up controversy because I didn't recall xi being in that position in the Greek alphabet. As I remembered it, we have I/J K L M N O P [not Q, for other reasons] R S T U because the Greeks had Iota Kappa Lamda Mu Nu Omicron Pi Rho Sigma Tau Upsilon and xi was one of those -i letter at the end whose order I could never remember. But independent lists of the Greek alphabet indicate that xi indeed came between nu and omicron.

--gpm

walter said...

Shoulda named it a la Hurricanes to avoid such high falootin' shit.
Variant Larry!

tim maguire said...

WK said...Since we appear to be using the Greek alphabet to name variants looks like we are getting towards the end. Only 9 more and we are done with COVID.

Hmmm...so what you’re saying is, we should cheer the skipping of letters. Although on the surface this might seem like an outrageous kowtowing to the Nazis of the east, its real significance is in chopping months off the pandemic. Take that, Pfizer! We should find some more letters to be offended by,

tim maguire said...

Ann Althouse said...The fact that NO ONE around here seems to know or even care how to pronounce it is reason alone to skip the damned thing.

Well that’s just silly. First, the common pronunciation IS the correct pronunciation. That is axiomatic. Second, if we skip every word that doesn’t follow it’s original pronunciation, we’d sit around quietly staring at each other all our lives, with nobody ever saying anything. Finally, the pronunciation is not at your primary link, it’s at a Youtube link buried deep in the post without clear explanation. Most of the time, I’m reading on a device or in a place where I can’t go watch a video and while it’s nice that you included that link, it’s unreasonable for you to demand that your readers research your posts to that extent before commenting on something that your post discusses directly. We are allowed to react to what we see.

Christopher B said...

Good lord, it ain't the PRONUNCIATION that's problematic, it's the English phonetic SPELLING. Imagine what would come up in DuckGo when you entered 'Xi variant'.

(and I'm somewhat guessing that if we hadn't adopted the ChiComm's Pinyin method of rendering Chinese words into the Latin alphabet then this wouldn't be an issue, either. So in a way, the CCP did it to themselves.)

Gahrie said...

Oh, but I am accused of "rationalizing"... as if there is ANY reason to suspect me of deferring to China.

aesthetics.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Ann Althouse said...
And if getting the pronunciation right involves acting superior because you studied math and science, then it's offputting to other people... and just at a time when we're trying to keep people up to speed about science. Avoiding "xi" is avoiding confusion and alienation.

Thank you for playing, but no.

No one is going to give a shit if they have the pronunciation right or wrong

Oh, but I am accused of "rationalizing"... as if there is ANY reason to suspect me of deferring to China. Really, this is indeed peak Cruzosity.

You are deferring to China. There's no "suspect" about it.

And you excuses for doing so are all crap.

Maybe you're doing it because you suffer from severe Cruz Derangement Syndrome. I don't know

But I do know there's no legitimate reason to skip Xi, other than a desperate desire not to offend the despot who rules over the CCP