How Do You Pronounce AT-AT?

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Yes, I know I’m a bit late for Techland’s Star Wars month, but hey, every month is Star Wars month for true Star Wars aficionados.

The question at hand, the proper pronunciation of the AT-AT walker, arose after watching Techlander Allie Townsend’s Star Wars Yoga video. Her Star Wars Yoga master pronounced AT-AT phonetically as “at at,” as in it rhymes with “hat hat,” however, I have always held the belief that the vehicle was pronounced by saying its letters, or Ay Tee-Ay Tee. This seemingly improper pronunciation was irksome and one mini-nerdrage later, I decided to use my journalistic mettle to settle the matter.

There is much evidence within the Star Wars universe itself to support my pronunciation given that other walkers like Return of the Jedi’s AT-ST and the prequels’ AT-TE are pronounced by their letters. Even everyone’s most beloved droid, R2D2, is pronounced by the letters that comprise its name, whereas there is little, if no, precedent for the pronunciation of AT-AT phonetically.

So who’s correct, the Star Wars Yoga master (unlikely), or me (most definitely)?

An email blast to Lucasfilm’s public relations department provided the definitive verdict. The official pronunciation for AT-AT is the phonetic one, as in it rhymes with “hat hat.”

Alas, the force was not with me.

Star Wars Yoga Master: 1

Joseph Lin: 0

How do you pronounce AT-AT and will this change your pronunciation of the iconic walker?

12 comments
kassim2
kassim2

I emailed LucasFilms about this and received the following response


"Hello Kassidy,

Thank you for your email. Our in-house Star Wars expert has this to say regarding your inquiry:

People who live in the Star Wars universe pronounce it “ay-tee-ay-tee,” although most are just as likely to say “Imperial walker.” We here on Earth can say whatever we want, including “atat”

Hopefully this helps clear matters up for you, we appreciate your commitment to Star Wars and may the Force be with you!

All the best,

Lucasfilm Publicity"

MichelleWigtilGirard
MichelleWigtilGirard

My guess is the person who answered never gave it a thought before, polled the other folks in the area and came back wrong. 


jayjayjay
jayjayjay

Using your example, how would one pronounce R2-D2 phonetically? If the collection of letters CAN be pronounced phonetically it's not uncommon for them to be known by that name.


As others have mentioned NATO, NASA but also AIDS, JPEG, BAFTA. Other acronyms have become so well known by their abbreviation of letters that people don't even realize that they are acronyms such as LASER, RADAR and SCUBA.


This is deep stuff we're talking here ;)

MichelleWigtilGirard
MichelleWigtilGirard

@jayjayjay But to support the author (and why not, I'm down this rabbit hole already!), within the SW universe similarly named vehicles with similar uses are not pronounced as a word, but by the call letters/numbers (AY-TEE/ESS-TEE and AY-TEE/TEE-EEE), so it sets a precedent for AY-TEE/Ay-TEE

Lt.Voss
Lt.Voss

If you want something pronounced phonetically, make it easier on the tongue and not easily confused with something else. Also, don't make a similar acronym for a similar object and have both pronounced differently. @ can be easily confused with a garbling of "at" while AY-TEE-AY-TEE is not. The only thing one could really confuse it on the battlefield with is "AY-TEE", which is a problem either way. And since emergency calls (like one saying a bunch of AT-AT's are incoming) will be repeated. TIE is pronounced like the object/verb because it is spelled in that manner. Same with NASA, NAFTA, NATO. Conversely, see the ISS, IFF, AK.


It's AY-TEE-AY-TEE. It will forever be that way. Every other AT model is spelled out, there is literally no reason to phonetically say it. In every LucasArts game I've played it even is spelled out. On their own official games.


ChrisPBacon
ChrisPBacon

@Lt.Voss Yeah, I don't care what the official word from Lucasfilm is on the matter. I can't imagine Darth Vader commanding an Imperial general to "Deploy the at ats."

GreystokeTheApe
GreystokeTheApe

Just because you pronounce one as an acronym (as opposed to an initialism) doesn't mean you have to pronounce the others similarly. That's why we have NASA and the FBI.

SilverDarkBlade
SilverDarkBlade

i believe its pronounced by saying the letters. i hate when the angry birds star wars commercials calls  it an atat

GregDwyer
GregDwyer

The problem becomes, however, is the All Terrain Scout Transport said to rhyme with "hat - sit" because that is pretty dang stupid.

ChrisPBacon
ChrisPBacon

@GregDwyer At at sound pretty dang stupid. I have always pronounce it aye-tee-aye-tee.