Thursday, December 31, 2015

FAQ: Why do you pronounce "AT-AT" phonetically?

Q: Why do you pronounce "AT-AT" phonetically?

  • A: The term "AT-AT" is never mentioned in any of the Star Wars movies -- they're referenced only as "Imperial Walkers."  However:
    • ILM model maker Charlie Bailey, who physically worked on the AT-AT scenes in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, says the English word "at" twice in rapid succession in the Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-Ray extras.
    • J.J. Abrams, director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, uses the phonetic pronunciation on the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-Ray when referencing the AT-AT that Rey lives in.
    • See the very first public mention of the AT-AT by name in the original 1981 Kenner commercial. Phonetic.
    • See the second commercial mention.  Phonetic.
    • Even LEGO previously used the oldest & once most common, military-style phoneticism.
    • This phonetic pronunciation was once even verified "correct" (or certainly at least quite valid) by a Lucasfilm representative.
I do pronounce the letters of AT-ST, AT-TE, AT-DP, etc. I'd say the vast majority folks who were actually alive during the times of the original trilogy use the original phonetic pronunciation, while much younger folk gravitate towards uniformity across the entire AT line.

The fact is, pronouncing the letters is always perfectly fine for acronyms*! 

  • Dave Filioni, Star Wars: Clone Wars (animated TV show) director and Star Wars: Rebels director, casually called out the phonetic pronunciation, "My favorite Imperial's the at at driver," in this interview at the 3:27 mark.  He then immediately pivots the conversation directly towards the vicious worldwide fan debate over the pronunciation of the 4-legged walker's designation:
    • "I say you can say at at, you can say ay-tee ay-tee, and you can say walker. I'm for all three. And that's canon because in the show I have Imperials say 'walkers,' I have them say 'at at,' and I have them say 'ay-tee ay-tee.' But you get these extremists that just want to say it's one way all the time..."
So to be even more clear on my own personal stance, you can (and should) quote me when I say there's absolutely nothing wrong with saying "ayy-tee ayy-tee." However, being a 30+ year fan of the franchise I personally choose to stick to the original way.
How come nobody ever complains about phonetic pronunciation of "TIE," "ARC-170", or "4-LOM?" Talk about double standards.  Can't we all just get along... together?


* I had to made that sentence ridiculously huge a year in because detractors always conveniently, intentionally tried to ignore it every single time they read this FAQ just to be stubbornly argumentative and falsely claim that I said the exact opposite. Sigh.

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