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Exxon and the Letter Exx.

April 1, 2013

The company name "Exxon" is properly written with the letter exx, which looks like an x with two parallel lines in one direction. (Look at the company's logo.) The same sound appears in the German word "ach". Exx is derived from, and pronounced like, the Greek letter chi, which looks like an x; but since that shape was already in use in the Roman alphabet as the letter x, this letter had to be modified by adding the parallel line.

When writing in the traditional Roman alphabet, since the letter exx is not available, we use the digraph "xx" as a substitute. The pronunciation is the same.

"Exxon" is properly pronounced somewhat like the exclamation "yexx", minus the initial "y", followed by "on". If you encounter people who pronounce it like "exon", please set them straight. An exon is something else — a part of a gene which is actually translated into protein (as opposed to introns, which are spliced out before translation). Some chemicals in Exxon petroleum could cause mutations in your exons, but aside from that the two words are unrelated, and they don't sound the same.

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