Hint: Don't say it like Joe Biden.
You know how to say "Delta" if you've flown with a certain airline, visited a certain town in B.C. or just been paying attention to COVID-19 virus variants as a human being on this Earth.
But have you figured out how to pronounce "Omicron" yet? Because some people — including the president of the United States — are still playing catchup with this not-so-popular letter from the Greek alphabet.
"It's called the Omnicron variant," President Joe Biden said during a speech to the U.S. on Monday. (It's not.)
President Biden addressed the nation about the Omicron variant.\n\nIn a relatable move, he mispronounced it as "Omnicron" the whole time.pic.twitter.com/4fNulAv8Eq— The Recount (@The Recount) 1638206841
It's actually called the Omicron variant, not the Omnicron variant. But even if you get the spelling right, it's not a simple thing to pronounce.
The New York Times did a deep-dive on how to say the word and in the end, it found that there's no one way to do it.
Luckily there are native Greek speakers on TikTok to help us all out, as well as plenty of language experts making the rounds in the media to tell you all the ways you can say the word right — or wrong.
TikTok user @kingbobof3rdst offered a sassy example of how to say "Omicron" on Tuesday, in a video with more than 240,000 views.
“Some of you did not have to recite the Greek alphabet multiple times before a lit match burned somebody’s finger, and it shows,” he says in the video.
“It’s Oh-meh-KRAAN you GDIs.”
Some of the pronunciations in hearing 😂 #GreekLife #omicron #covid
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization's technical lead on COVID-19, also pronounced it that way when she announced the variant's name last week.
The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution met today to review what is known about the #COVID19 variant B.1.1.529.\nThey advised WHO that it should be designated a Variant of Concern.\nWHO has named it Omicron, in line with naming protocols https://bit.ly/3r8YrEd\u00a0pic.twitter.com/Gev1zIt1Ek— World Health Organization (WHO) (@World Health Organization (WHO)) 1637950290
Other Greeks have offered their own tutorials about the pronunciation online.
If you've followed me, or if you know me in real life, I'm vocal regarding the English pronunciation of Greek words and names. As many news outlets are filing their reports on the omicron variant, there continues to be a debate as to the correct pronunciation of that letter.pic.twitter.com/40twkwO6mY— Katy Kostakis (@Katy Kostakis) 1638371577
Google's handy pronunciation tool offers two options for saying it. The British pronunciation is "o-muh-kron" and the American version is "aa-muh-kraan," according to Google's tool.
Merriam-Webster lists three ways to say it and they're all written in special lettering, but the options sound like:
You're more likely to make the "ah" sound at the beginning if you have an American accent, according to both sites.
The World Health Organization started naming COVID-19 variants after Greek letters earlier this year, and we're already halfway through that list.
They named Omicron and dubbed it a variant of concern last week, just a few days after South African officials warned the world about the heavily mutated version of the COVID-19 virus.
Research is underway to find out exactly how deadly and transmissible it is, and vaccine-makers are already racing to make sure that they can stay ahead of the mutations in this new variant.
Meanwhile, "Omicron" is on many world leaders' lips as they close borders and restrict travel to slow the spread of the variant.
There might be different ways to say it but if there's one thing you need to remember it's this: Don't call it "Omnicron."
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