Claim: CERN (pronounced “KERN”?) Collider Sets Record


The world’s largest atom smasher has set a new record for high-energy atom collisions – with three times more force than ever before.

I had no idea it was pronounced “Kern” … I thought it was “Sern.”

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17 thoughts on “Claim: CERN (pronounced “KERN”?) Collider Sets Record

  1. I pronounced it with a soft ‘C’ sound when I worked there, and was never corrected. In fact, we pronounced it something that, in English, would be roughly “SAIRN” (but with a rounder vowel sound than would be used by an English speaker from North America). The neighbourhood is French-speaking, and the common languages of the labs were English and French. We pronounced CERN according to the way one might pronounce it in French, as the acronym itself is built out of the French name for the lab.

    “SERN” sounds a bit weird to me, like what we called in Montreal an “algicisme”, a word incorrectly transliterated from English. “KERN” would not even pass my parsers, I’d fail to recognize what the speaker was trying to say.

  2. So, is this video yet another example of content-confused babble coming from the LHC that could have been done better and that we hope does not represent the quality of the engineering, physics, data collection and analysis at this very expensive and important facility?

    Or is it bad reporting?

    Or is it reporting that could have been better if c/kern had better press machinery.

  3. There’s a huge argument about the correct pronunciation – some say it should be “Sern”, because it’s “C” ahead of “E”, but others argue that it’s only an abbreviation, and in the full name the “C” is followed by an “O”, so it should retain the K-sound even in the abbreviated version.


  4. Since CERN once was the abbreviation of Centre Européane pour la Rechearche Nucléaire (or something like that, my french sucks) it’s pronounced the same as the french word centre (center) with the soft c (which sounds like an s).

    With a hard k instead of a s it sounds extremely silly.

  5. student_b: actually, the ‘C’ in CERN stands for “conseil”. That’s pronounced with a hard ‘c’. However, I’ve never heard “KERN” or “KAIRN” when the name of the lab was used in a conversation being held in French.

  6. So… the folks at ITN don’t know how to pronounce CERN and have no clue about the difference between force and energy.

    And this fucks up the reputation of the research that goes on at CERN exactly how?

  7. Oops … missed Winter Toad’s post. I thought it was “Centre” but “Conseil” sounds more reasonable since there is no actual center – the consortium has numerous laboratories. Bah, I’ll steer clear and pronounce it as if it were Italian.

  8. CERN Director General Rolf Heuer pronounces it with a soft C. in a video on the CERN website. Certainly more reliable than a British reporter.

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