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The pronunciation of Charles Xavier's family name ("egg-savier") is distinctly odd and counterintuitive. Not having read the comics as a kid, when I watched the movies, I was convinced for a long time that his name was "Charles X. Xavier" (Charles Xavier Xavier? That wouldn't be even close to the weirdest name some real world parents choose for their kids). Is there an in-universe explanation for why it this particular pronunciation exists?

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    The pronunciation "egg-zay-vee-yerr" is fairly common in English speaking countries. I know two people with that first name who pronounce it the same way. I also know a person from Spain with that first name, and it's pronounced "haa-vee-yeah-rr" – phantom42 Mar 1 '15 at 21:14
  • But it should have been "Zav-yay". Patrick Stewart always has French names, pronounced the French way, in movies. Why should this movie franchise be any different? – Mr Lister Mar 1 '15 at 22:07
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    Both are common pronunciations of it. I think "ex-zavier" is the more common way to pronounce it in USA, so that's what they went with. Also it emphasises the "X" in his name - otherwise people might ask why they're not called the "Z-Men" because their leader's name is "Zavier"... – Adeptus Mar 2 '15 at 4:23
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    this might be better posted on the English Language Exchange – Daft Mar 2 '15 at 10:17
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    I have to disagree with your basic premise: there is, in fact, absolutely nothing odd or counterintuitive about pronouncing Xavier as /eggs-ah-vee-air/, at least in English. – Martha Mar 2 '15 at 20:11
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This is speculation, but since you asked for an in-universe explanation, one logical explanation does exist:

The mutant association with the letter X.

The X-Men, the mutant X-gene, even "X"-avier himself as a prominent mutant advocate, etc. In-universe, mutants identify a lot with the letter X.

It would therefore make sense for a prominent mutant, either by others or even by himself, to alter the pronunciation of his name to make a political statement. Take as an example, the members of the African American community who changed their names to Muslim names during the civil rights movement, most famously the switch from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali. These were political statements being made using a person's name, and they're not the only example.

Again, it's definitely speculation, but it's not hard to imagine a young Charles "Zavier" deciding to pronounce his name as "Charles X-Savior" as he takes up the mantle of Mutant Rights.

Alternatively, "Charles EX-avior" might have started as a insulting deliberate mispronounciation by anti-mutant elements, (e.g. imagine a KKK member sneering at a civil rights advocate named "Danny Brickwell" by calling him "Danny Black-Well"), which was picked up and turned into a positive term by the mutant community, similar to how the term "Obamacare" went from an insult to a term used by both sides.

Either way, given Xavier's position within the mutant community, it's likely that the emphasis on the letter X in his name isn't a coincidence.

  • Actually, I think mutants are associated with "X" because of the X-Men, the original and most prominent team of mutants. And Xavier named the team after himself. That said, I think the "Ex-zavier" pronunciation is something the creators use to emphasize the connection aurally. – Shawn V. Wilson Oct 29 '18 at 4:47
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Wiktionary claims that "Zavier" is the correct pronunciation in both British and American English. It lists "Egs-avier" as an alternate pronunciation specific to the X-Men franchise.

I haven't found a source for this -- but I'm sure I've heard the "Egs-avier" pronunciation used in North America, particularly for the name "Francis Xavier". In "Francis Xavier" (referring to the Catholic saint, or people named after him), this pronunciation serves to emphasise that the name is two separate words -- otherwise it would sound more like "Francizavier".

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    The Canadian university St. Francis Xavier has always been pronounced as "Saint Francis Eks-ay-vee-er". I have never heard it pronounced any other way (in English), and this was long before the X-Men were well-known outside of comic fans. – Keith Morrison Apr 17 at 21:16
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The name, Xavier, is based on a Basque word, etxeberria, which is indeed pronounced with an "eh" at the beginning. It's an unusual pronunciation, but not outside of possibility.

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    @GEdgar - What dictionary is that? It doesn't sound like any Arabic word I know. – System Down Mar 2 '15 at 18:10
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    @GEdgar: your dictionary probably got it from Charlotte M. Yonge, History of Christian Names (London: MacMillan and Co., 1884). Where Yonge came up with this bit of utter nonsense is anyone's guess, however. (This is the problem with pretty much all the name-origin websites and books out there: they all copy from each other, repeating the same errors and introducing new ones. In this case, it's an error from 1884 still being propagated 130+ years later.) – Martha Mar 2 '15 at 20:27
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    @Martha just connected a minor statement about a comic book character back to a linguistics book from 130 years ago, and in doing so demonstrated why I love the Internet. – Nerrolken Mar 3 '15 at 0:51
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    etxeberria: ah, fascinating. So, obviously, all must be also cognate with "Echeverria", which is another decently common name in Spanish (usually a family name) – Euro Micelli Sep 9 '15 at 4:51
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    So, why the recent downvote? I thought this was a perfectly valid answer for why he pronounces it that way. – FuzzyBoots Apr 10 '17 at 21:23

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