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Do we have any information on the motivation for the accent (^) in Chirrut Îmwe's name?

Is it supposed to represent something specific?

Is it inspired by something in particular?

Or is it just trying to look a little bit unusual as many names in Star Wars do?

Are there other examples similar to this besides Padmé Amidala? (Which I consider to be a different case because it serves an orthographic purpose -- it indicates specific pronunciation change.)

  • In several languages it does serve an orthographic purpose, usually that it should be pronounced /iː/ (a common pronunciation of regular "i" in English, the ⟨ee⟩ sound in "machine") – Friulian, Kurdish, Turkish, Welsh. In Romanian it represents /ɨ/. (French is an exception, where it's pronounced the same as "i".) – tobiasvl Feb 9 '17 at 8:32
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    @tobiasvl So it's ee-m-way? – Oubliette Feb 9 '17 at 15:36
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    Well, youtube.com/watch?v=1s6ayVki5GY .... but I can't tell if this is supposed to be a joke or it's just a terrible terrible mistake. – ThePopMachine Feb 9 '17 at 15:54
  • @ThePopMachine I think it's always safer to pronounce people's names with HTML escapes, just in case. – Harris Feb 9 '17 at 17:10
  • In many cases, a circumflex in French can still indicate a long vowel. – chepner May 19 '17 at 15:13
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+25

This is a version of a Punctuation Shaker (warning: tvtropes). To quote that page:

One of the easiest ways to give an exotic or alien spin to words intended to have originated from an exotic language is to sprinkle it liberally with unexpected punctuation marks. [...] After the apostrophe, the second most common punctuation mark is the diaeresis/umlaut [...] Its use in fantasy was probably popularized by J.R.R. Tolkien (like MANY fantasy devices), who used it a lot. (He used acute and circumflex accents even more.)

In short, it's "just trying to look a little bit unusual".

A quick glance at the Wikipedia list of Star Wars and Legends Characters shows that apostrophes and accents are the most used alternative to "normal" letters.

That said, these are all diacritics, and they all serve orthographic purposes, so accents should not be considered separate from circumflexes. Granted one is less familiar to us as English speakers, but they are still in the same family. Obviously, some writer somewhere chose to shake things up by using a different diacritic.


In-universe, you can blame the fact that there are at least three ways of writing Galactic Basic, not all with the same number of characters. So switching between writing systems in the same language would introduce this diacritics to the names. Not to mention the fact that there are thousands of separate languages. So translating from those would also do the same thing.

  • High Galactic was a writing system that saw use during the Clone Wars and the Galactic Civil War. It was effectively English with Latin Characters.

  • Aurebesh was a writing system used to transcribe Galactic Basic

  • Outer Rim Basic was a 26-letter writing system that was used in the Outer Rim Territories to transcribe Galactic Basic, although it was originally created for another language

Pages from Ezra Bridger's private journal, handwritten in High Galactic

Pages from Ezra Bridger's private journal, handwritten in High Galactic

Aurebesh letters and punctuation

Aurebesh letters and punctuation

"Jho" in Outer Rim Basic

"Jho" in Outer Rim Basic

  • Maybe, but it is not limited to Naboo names, and I said it s a version of punctuation shakers. It is altering the standard English usage of the letter to give it a foreign/alien appearance. At any rate, I've edited in some more names and explanations. – amflare May 19 '17 at 19:26
  • As I stated in the original question, I wouldn't consider the use of an é to be comparable to Î because it is really not that unusual in English and it serves a specific orthographic purpose. Î is extremely unusual, especially in the initial position and serves to obviously orthographic purpose. – ThePopMachine May 19 '17 at 20:06
  • @ThePopMachine - Ah, I thought you meant examples besides that name. I'll revisit my answer at some point this evening. – amflare May 19 '17 at 20:14
  • @ThePopMachine - Done and done. Does that better answer your question? – amflare May 19 '17 at 21:21
  • I don't know.... I appreciate the effort, but this is more of a blanket answer without specifics to this case. I was hoping for more. But if none exists, I guess this is the best answer. – ThePopMachine May 22 '17 at 14:43

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