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I was reading about Galactic Basic Standard, the standard language in Star-Wars. This lead me to the article about Aurebesh, the alphabet that is used to write it, and that is used all over the Star-Wars franchise.

Aurebesh

I noticed that there is no X shaped letter in this alphabet. This seems to cause a problem for the name of the X-Wing starfighter, which got its name from the "X"-shape of it's four wings.

The out of universe reason behind that is obvious, but is there a in universe explanation for the name of the X-Wing, and the others [letter]-Wing starfighter, which take in to consideration the Aurebesh alphabet?

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    Presumably, like the rest of the film, it's a translation. – Wikis Aug 10 '12 at 19:08
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    Utterly unfounded speculation: The language they speak has a word pronounced "ecks" that refers to what we would call an "X" shape. – Keith Thompson Aug 10 '12 at 21:58
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    If only Cresh3PethOsk were here to grant the linguistic insight. – Gorchestopher H Aug 10 '12 at 22:36
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    Clearly besh inspired the tie fighter. I guess they're call besh-wings? – Wikis Aug 13 '12 at 11:08
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    Now you've got me wondering how it's possible for us to have delta-wing aircraft when there's no delta in the English alphabet. – user14111 Oct 6 '14 at 20:59
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+100

There is the High Galactic alphabet that was "created" for the sole purpose of explaining the occurrences of the Latin alphabet in the Star Wars universe.

The High Galactic alphabet was a form of writing in the galaxy. While not as commonly used as Aurebesh, this alphabet was frequently used in signatures and by nobles.
[...]
The High Galactic Alphabet was also used for naming many starship models (such as the T-65 X-wing starfighter) and droid models (such as the R2 series of astromech droids).

  • I guess the same reasoning applies to droid names that include letters like R2-D2 and C3-PO? – Nicolas Miari Feb 5 '16 at 8:28
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Because the name of the vehicle, the Incom T-65 X-wing fighter was created in 1977 and the typeface Aurebesh wasn't created until 1995, nearly 20 years later. The designer of the typeface likely did not consider the need for a font element to have an X-shape until long after the font was in use. This is one of those minor goofs that fans discover but the designers overlook. Don't read too much into this one.

The one potential cure for this is to consider there is a lower-case variant of the alphabet that could allow for the "X" shape to exist. This could be one of those typefaces that is used in all upper case (as old terminal displays used to do on Earth) and there could have been a lower case version of Xesh (the X character) that we are not privy to.

Consider the Greek language which has wildly divergent characters between the upper and lower case.

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EDIT:

From the comments: There couldn't be an IN-UNIVERSE reason. Unless there is another alphabet, or primary language we are not privy to, there is no reason at all to consider this nothing more than a flub on an overburdened design crew.

  • As I suspected there was a retconned language reference dealing with the addition of Latin letters in the Galactic Alphabet
  • This explains the existence of Latin letters in ship and droid designations. This meets my criteria of another galactic language that is much less used but still referenced. (see: High Galactic Alphabet)
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    -1 because I explicitly asked for an in universe explanation as the out of universe reason is oblivious. – DavRob60 Aug 10 '12 at 17:58
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    There couldn't be an IN-UNIVERSE reason. Unless there is another alphabet, or primary language we are not privy to, there is no reason at all to consider this nothing more than a flub on an overburdened design crew. – Thaddeus Howze Aug 10 '12 at 18:00
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    Are you sure about that? I bet you 500 rep there's an in universe reason. – DavRob60 Aug 10 '12 at 18:03
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    @DavRob60 - I'm too much of a rep whore to bet that much, but I will bet 100 rep (presumably your idea was a bounty for this Q?) that this particular detail was NOT ret-conned. I guess Thaddeus can't lose either way now :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 10 '12 at 18:16
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    @Thaddeus You did not suspect there was another alphabet, you where just open to the possibility of it's existence. You hypotesis were, 1 this is a goofs, 2 there is a lower-case variant. Don't try to retcon you answer. ;) – DavRob60 Aug 10 '12 at 22:00
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This question assumes that the X-Wing was named for the Latin letter "X". Out of universe, that's obviously true, but in-universe it isn't actually a given. An in-universe, or at least semi-in-universe, explanation would be that it is a "closest possible" translation, as is common in Tolkien's conceit for LOTR.

Disclaimer: There seems to be disagreement in various articles about whether Galactic Base Standard IS English or is being rendered as English. However, even if you think the dialogue isn't being translated, the Aurebesh is a sign that GBS is not exactly English: alternate alphabets and differing language origins at least open the door to the possibility that GBS is an independent language, being translated into English.

And if we grant this possibility, an in-universe explanation appears:

In Tolkien's conceit (as in real-world translations), the literal meaning of a word is not the only element used in its translation. "Baranduin" was rendered by Tolkien as "Brandywine," both because the meaning is similar but also because the words themselves are similar. Other words have their translations shifted to allow for rhymes, or cadence, or association/implication, or other elements of the original text which would be lost in a straight definition-based translation.

It's entirely possible that the "native" term for an X-Wing would best be translated as "cross-wing" or "star-wing" or something similar, rather than being a literal reference to either the Aurebesh letter Xesh or the Latin letter X, but was rendered in English as X-Wing because it conveyed the meaning most fully. Or, perhaps the phrase literally sounded like "ecks-wing" when pronounced, or maybe (like Xerox and Kleenex and Post-Its) the term "X-Wing" was a reference to something else entirely in that universe (similar to "Smith-Wing") and only later became a reference for all cross-shapes because of the famous fighter's design, rather than the other way around.

This answer may not work for everyone, depending on their beliefs regarding the relationship between Galactic Basic Standard and English, but it at least provides a possible in-universe answer given the constraints of the canon.

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Maybe they don't have a X letter, but surely they know that sign and use it (maybe for multiplication?).

As the aircraft resembles that symbol they name it X-wing, wich is in fact a translation, as surely they don't say WING.

In Star Wars universe they would write it like X-(WINGTRANSLATION), using the name that they give to X character, and we translate it on english to X-wing.

  • Why would "wing" be translated specially? The language we hear spoken by most people in the movies in Galactic Basic Standard. – phantom42 Oct 7 '14 at 13:09
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    @phantom42 no it isn't, it's a translation, like when you see a WWII movie and you see germans speaking english... they're actually speaking german, however you're seeing it translated for script reasons – Bardo Oct 8 '14 at 8:34

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