In the tech world it’s easy to find debates about how to pronounce things. One of those things is OS X. Most people either say “Oh Es Ex” or “Oh Es Ten“. So which is it? As it turns out, it’s not a matter of preference like most claim — that is unless you simply prefer to pronounce it incorrectly. In this case there is actually a correct way.
At the center of this issue is a simple concept: when an authority for a particular product or movement explicitly states how that thing is pronounced, that pronunciation does in fact become the correct one.
Examples of this include Linus Torvalds clearly stating that Linux is to be pronounced “linicks” ( Video ) and Ubuntu Linux‘s creators giving an exact phonetic breakdown of how to pronounce their product [oo-boon-too] ( Ubuntu.com ). The point is that if the creator is still alive (and they offer an opinion on the matter) we can use them as the ultimate authority.
With OS X many people point to the fact that Steve Jobs clearly says, “Oh Es Ten” when he says the name. That’s fairly convincing, but it turns out there’s an even better illustration: we can ask the operating system itself how to pronounce its own name. OS X comes with a built-in program called
say which literally “says” anything you tell it to.
Why debate it when we can go right to the source? The trick is that if you tell it to say the letter “X”, it says “Ex”. But if you tell it to say, “OS X“, it says “Oh Es Ten“. (See Video)
me@computer me $ say “X”
me@computer me $ say “OS X”
Oh Es Ten.
We were just told precisely how to say “OS X” by the best possible source — the operating system itself.: