28

A colleague with the same name recently pointed out that in a New Hope the pronunciation "Lee-ah" is used. However, in later movies, "Lay-ah" is more common.

What is the correct pronunciation of Princess Leia's name? Are there any out-of-universe comments by George Lucas referencing this?

  • @Skooba Grand Moff Tarkin as well. – MgSam Jul 13 '16 at 17:47
  • @MgSam British. Doesn't count! – Slacklord the Terrible Jul 13 '16 at 17:50
  • Carrie Fisher doesn't seem to be able to decide if it's "lee-yah" or "Lay-yah". She uses both interchangeably; youtube.com/watch?v=Kh1t2MJDbrs – Valorum Jul 13 '16 at 18:19
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    THROAT-wobbler MAN-grove. – Wad Cheber Jul 13 '16 at 18:38
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    Depends if you're in the European or American section of the galaxy. Just ask Nicholas Wirth – mcalex Jul 14 '16 at 5:46
36

The people closest to Leia (in-universe) and that appear later (out-of-universe) all pronounce her name the same way: LAY-uh.

However, it does seem at the time A New Hope was filmed and released the pronunciation may have been; LEE-ah.


Evidence:

Episode III

In the scene where Padme gives birth, Obi-Wan asks her to name the children. At about 0:47 in the video Leia is born. Padme clearly pronounces it LAY-uh.


Episode IV Just prior the destruction of Alderaan, Leia and Tarkin have an exchange. Tarkin pronounces the name LEE-uh
Destruction of Alderaan on Disney Video

Also, Senator Dodonna uses the LEE-uh pronounciation during the briefing prior the assault on the Death Star. Heard at about 0:11.


Episode V

Luke calls out to Leia vocally but is trying to use the Force. He uses the LAY-uh pronunciation. See this around 0:50.


Episode VI

When Luke is talking to her about their mother he pronounces it LAY-uh. This occurs at about 0:04.


Epsiode VII

When Leia and Han reunited, Han pronounces it LAY-uh at about 0:30.


Out-of-universe: Episode IV was the first film released and seems to be the only place where the name is pronounce "Lee-uh". Newer movies all have the same pronunciation, so it appears that a decision was made to either change or standardize her name after the first film.

In many interviews from the time period the pronunciation is also LAY-uh by the hosts and the actors: here is one example of Carrie Fisher doing just that at about 1:07

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    Tarkin pronounces the name LEE-uh Aha! So that's the derogatory pronunciation! – user11521 Jul 13 '16 at 21:48
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    You should add that Leia pronounces her own name as LAY-uh when she first meets Lando in Episode V. To me, that's the strongest evidence for the pronunciation. – Thunderforge Jul 14 '16 at 4:36
  • Video link is dead – Valorum Oct 14 '17 at 18:31
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    Your second-to-last video link is dead. – Rand al'Thor Oct 22 '17 at 12:08
  • For all your in-universe examples: Family (Mother, Brother, Husband) pronounces it "LAY-uh", everyone else says "LEE-uh". – Alexander Jun 12 at 16:53
13

George Lucas pronounces it as "Lee-ah".

Given he directed the A New Hope, but not Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi, it's easily possible that he controlled how the actors pronounced it in the first film but it was not discussed in the next two. By the time Revenge of the Sith and later movies had come out, pop-culture had already settled upon the "Lay-uh" pronunciation.

  • Yeah, and thank goodness. Lucas also said that Greedo shot first and he was overridden by pop culture there too. – C. Tewalt Jul 14 '16 at 16:14
  • @matrixugly If it wasn't for George Lucas we wouldn't be discussing Star Wars right now. – MgSam Jul 15 '16 at 13:00
11

The (canon) Star Wars factbook Star Wars Made Easy: A Beginner's Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away includes a handy pronunciation guide.

enter image description here
Caption reads "Leia Organa - LAY-ah or-GAH-nah"

  • Now if this isn't acccurate I don't know what is – Edlothiad Oct 14 '17 at 18:34
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    Them eyes man... freaking me out man.... – Skooba Oct 14 '17 at 20:56
6

It was originally pronounced Lee-ah, not Lay-ah, in 1977's original release of Star Wars before all the director's cuts. Both Grand Moff Tarkin, and the Rebel alliance commander clearly pronounce Leia's name as Lee-ah.

The first pronunciation of Lay-ah, publicly, that I recall was on the first run of Kenner action figure toy releases, circa 1978, when the TV commercial voiceover pronounced it Lay-ah. We, original Star Wars fans, in the school yard thought it was a mistake in the TV voiceover's pronunciation but then her name was pronounced Lay-ah from Empire Strikes Back onwards.

Therefore, it seems that George Lucas was already confusing Star Wars's fan base with disjointed continuity from the very start!

MY SOURCE:

I was there! I'm an original 10 year old Star Wars fan who was obsessed with the movie after seeing it in its original format (before it was called Episode IV: A New Hope) in the theaters five times in 1977. I had the toys, fan magazines, T-shirts, memorized the movies lines, etc.

-4

The definitive answer is that it's LEE-uh. Leia is LEE-uh. LAY-uh is Leah. All through out "Star Wars" and the first half of "The Empire Strikes Back" it is Leia, and it is always credited in the titles as Leia. Half-way through "The Empire Strikes Back" it is pronounced: LAY-uh and from then after.

The reason is clear. In the 1978 television program "The Making of Star Wars," Carrie Fisher pronounces the name LAY-uh and she is the motivation for the mis-pronunciation that is applied afterwards.

Furthermore, the original 13-page treatment to Star Wars is strongly based off the 1958 Akira Kurosawa film "The Hidden Fortress," which is actually titled: "Three Bad Men of the Hidden Fortress." The Princess Leia character in the film is Princess Yuki whom Kurosawa modeled after the look of Elizabeth Taylor (the woman who stole Carrie Fisher's father from her mother). [Kurosawa states this idea explicitly in the supplementary materials to the DVD release of "The Hidden Fortress."]

"The Hidden Fortress" is based on a 1926 John Ford film "3 Bad Men," in which the heroine is named: "Lee Carleton." Princess Leia and her name are directly derived from Lee Carleton.

The correct pronunciation of Princess Leia's name is LEE-uh.

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  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Is your argument that because it was initially "lee-ah," that is definitively correct? You need to cite some evidence that shows that the switch to "lay-ah" is somehow incorrect. The theory about "The Hidden Fortress" is just a theory without some evidence, and it's a pretty big stretch. – DavidW Jun 12 at 16:23
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    "LAY-uh is Leah." Are you sure? I've never heard it pronounced anything other than LEE-uh. And I agree with DavidW that your theory about The Hidden Fortress seems really flimsy and tenuous. – F1Krazy Jun 12 at 16:30
  • DavidW-I cited that it was Carrie Fisher's influence that changed the pronunciation from LEE-uh to LAY-uh which you can check is in "The Making of Star Wars." The LEE-un pronunciation is used all through "Star Wars" and half way into "The Empire Strikes Back." Star Wars is inspired from "The Hidden Fortress," see "SkyWalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas," by David Pollock and the DVD of "The Hidden Fortress," where George Lucas states this explicitly. "The Hidden Fortress," is based on the 1926 John Ford film, "3 Bad Men," whose heroine is Lee. Leia is LEE-uh and Leah is is LAY-uh. – user6664090 2 days ago
  • F1Krasy - The Hidden Fortress theory is true. George Lucas has stated this inspiration explicitly. Also, if you walk through the treatment to Star Wars (clearly based on "Hidden Fortress,) similarities pop up to Star Wars in same order in the treatment as they do in the film. Look at "Hidden Fortress" DVD commentary and supplements. – user6664090 2 days ago
-5

C-3PO and General Dadonna both say 'Lay-ah' so given that was the version I watched the most in the 80s, that's what I refer to her as.

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