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In Star Wars, the Galactic Basic Standard alphabet has the letters thrill (t) and herf (h) but also the letter thresh (th). Which is more common to use: thresh, or trill and herf?

Aurebesh alphabet

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    This question is very difficult to understand. Please edit it for clarity.
    – Wad Cheber
    Oct 22, 2015 at 23:13
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    I think I know what he's asking. OP if I got that wrong please fix it!
    – KutuluMike
    Oct 22, 2015 at 23:20
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    Assuming that Mike is right, the close votes are now uncalled for and should be reversed.
    – Wad Cheber
    Oct 22, 2015 at 23:22
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    None of this is canon.
    – Gaius
    Oct 23, 2015 at 11:20
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    Are you sure? Wookipedia lists a ton of canon appearances of this alphabet.
    – KutuluMike
    Oct 23, 2015 at 12:02

3 Answers 3

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Typical Alphabets

Normally, in a alphabet that has glyphs for digraphs and dipthongs, you would always use the correct glyph based on how the word sounded. In this case, the Galactic Basic Standard alphabet (called Aurebesh) has thresh to represents the th sound, so you would use that letter when it represents a single sound.

For example, when you pronounce the word "the", you make two sounds "th" and "e". That is a case where you'd use the letter thresh. On the other hand, if you pronounce the word "hathead" you pronounce the "t" and "h" as separate sounds. In that case, you would trill and herf as separate letters.

Aurebesh In Canon

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the canon examples of Aurebesh we have to work with followed this rule very much, if at all. For example, this message is see on Anakin's speeder in Phantom Menace:

enter image description here

The second line reads "Turn The Ship", and as you can probably see, "the" is spelled "trill - herf - nern" and "ship" is spelled "senth - herf - isk - peth". These are both cases where you would expect "thresh" or "shesh" to be used, and they weren't.

Similarly, this scene is from The Clone Wars:

enter image description here

where you can see the word "threat" (third large yellow word) spelled with trill-herf and not thresh.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, many of the other cases where we see Aurebresh in the movies are just gibberish -- they don't translate into real words that we could tell if the thresh was used properly. Given that the few solid example of in-canon use I can find does not use thresh, I suspect it's probably used very rarely. Thus, it's seems to be far more common to use trill-herf than to use thresh, even in cases where thresh would be correct.

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    So basically they wrote what they wanted in Roman English and then substituted in an Aurebesh font.
    – David K
    Oct 23, 2015 at 13:47
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    looks like it, yes. IIRC the original trilogy actually used the Roman alphabet, then Aurebesh was defined in a video game, and then Lucasfilms went back and retro-fitted it into ESB and used it in future movies, but poorly.
    – KutuluMike
    Oct 23, 2015 at 14:25
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According to Wookieepedia:

It should be noted that in many instances, the sounds "ch", "sh", and "th" are written using Aurebesh exactly as they would be in English (cresh-herf, senth-herf, and trill-herf, respectively), despite that separate letters exist in Aurebesh for those sounds (cherek, shen, and thesh, respectively). [...] While it is possible that these instances represent legitimate in-universe variations of the sound-values for the letters in question, it is more likely that they represent errors on the part of the real-world transliterators (who are understandably more used to employing digraphs than employing single letters to write these sounds).

So at least one (admittedly non-canon) source is of the opinion that the use of digraphs to represent the "th" sound in Star Wars is simply an error. As such, it might not make sense to speak of the in-universe frequency of such usage.

If one wishes to take all instances of this usage as canon, it would probably be impossible to estimate frequency from such small samples. If, on the other hand, it is treated as an error, many of the examples are referenced in the linked article.

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    What's a "th" sound? th as in theater or th as in they? Oct 23, 2015 at 9:50
  • @ypercube Both the voiced dental fricative /ð/ (as in theater) and the voiceless dental fricative /θ/ (they).
    – Firebat
    Oct 23, 2015 at 11:16
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    It's the opposite (θ/ in theater and ð/ in they). Sorry to be pedantic ;) Oct 23, 2015 at 11:46
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Trill Herf is used most commonly, perhaps for the same reason we use TH rather than Thorn (Þ/þ) or Eth (Ð/ð) - the digraphs simply went out of style.

Alternatively, maybe it's for the same reason we have no grapheme Š for SH - it's only used in certain languages/dialects and we've found no reason to adopt it in English.

The first reason makes most sense. Maybe these letters recently went out of use in the Republic.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. The existing answer observed that where non-gibberish Aurebesh text is displayed it almost always uses trill-herf instead of thresh; can you add to that, perhaps by finding more examples and classifying them? The speculation is interesting, but without evidence it doesn't really make a satisfying answer.
    – DavidW
    Sep 29, 2021 at 18:53
  • I was responding more to the other speculation in the article. I'm simply suggesting that there are other possibilities than that it was an error in transliteration. There could be a canonical reason that we are unaware of. As for evidence, the only evidence we have is the existence of the alphabet in Star Wars media, and canonically, writing both with and without digraphs exists (as does mirrored writing and pure gibberish). As such, there is no definitive evidence, and any discussion regarding conclusions must be speculative.
    – Ian Cooper
    Sep 29, 2021 at 19:02

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