Read the Star Wars Way: A Guide to Aurebesh

A-Z in a written language far, far away

You're watching a Star Wars movie, or one of the animated TV shows, and something catches your eye. It's written text, probably displayed on a sign or some kind of electronic screen.

But it's not like any text you've seen before, and it's certainly not English. The main language spoken in Star Wars may sound like English, but it's actually called Basic, although sometimes it's referred to as Galactic Standard. Either way, it's English they're speaking.

So their language sounds like ours, but their written words don't look like ours. Aurebesh, the written form of Basic, traces its roots back to 1993 and the publication of role-playing game companion volume from West End Games. It was created by author Stephen Crane, who'd seen some scifi glyphs on a screen in Return of the Jedi and decided to make up an alphabet based on it. Another book in 1996 expanded Aurebesh to include punctuation marks.

1999 was the first time Aurebesh was officially canonized by Lucasfilm, when it appeared in The Phantom Menace. (Written text in original trilogy films were later changed to Aurebesh in special edition releases.) Since then, it's been seen in , Rebels, novels, comic books, video games, and more.

Crane's original version of Aurebesh included eight additional phonemes that combined two existing letters into a single character, for sounds such as "ch," "ng," and "th." But these are not officially recognized by Lucasfilm (at least not yet), so I'm not including them.

So the next time you see words written on a Star Wars product, or on a screen in a movie or TV episode, here's how to translate so you can read what it says. Maybe you'll learn them so well you'll be able to impress your geeky friends by reading Aurebesh without the need for a translation cypher like this one.

The only tip I can give you is to think of what an English letter looks like when it falls over on its side. Many (but not all) Aurebesh letters appear to be inspired by this way of thinking.

01
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A (Aurek)

Aurek
The letter "A" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

Aurebesh's "A" looks an awful lot like a stylized "K," doesn't it?

It's called "Aurek," which I assume is also how you pronounce it.

02
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B (Besh)

Besh
The letter "B" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

"Besh," or the letter "B" as we know it, has a really cool design, you have to admit.

03
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C (Cresh)

Cresh
The letter "C" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

In some of Crane's letter designs, it's easy to see how he turned an English letter into an Aurebesh character. There's a certain resemblance or shared logic between them, such as the sideways characters I mentioned earlier.

Then there are letters like this one, which looks nothing whatsoever like its English equivalent. The letter "C" is pronounced "Cresh," and it looks more like the pulse of a stereo speaker.

04
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D (Dorn)

Dorn
The letter "D" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

Backwards "F"? Nope, it's the letter "D," aka "Dorn."

05
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E (Esk)

Esk
The letter "E" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

I look at this and my brain immediately goes, Virginia Tech. It looks like a "V" and a "T," right?

This is "Esk," the Basic version of "E." It looks nothing like an "E."

06
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F (Forn)

Forn
The letter "F" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

Go home, "A," you're drunk.

This rather Oriental looking character is actually "Forn," or as we know it, "F."

07
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G (Grek)

Grek
The letter "G" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

Did somebody start drawing a trapezoid but fell asleep before they finished? Nope, this is "Grek," the Star Wars version of "G."

It looks a lot like a letter "G" fallen on its side.

08
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H (Herf)

Herf
The letter "H" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

"Herf" in no way resembles our letter "H," but that's what it is nonetheless.

09
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I (Isk)

Isk
The letter "I" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

Who's #1? I am.

Sorry, couldn't resist. The "I" in Aurebesh, pronounced "Isk," looks exactly like the English number 1.

10
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J (Jenth)

Jenth
The letter "J" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

"Jenth," aka the letter "J," looks like a comfy chair I want to lay back and relax in.

11
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K (Krill)

Krill
The letter "K" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

No, not the ocean-bound tiny crustaceans. "Krill" is the letter "K," though you'd certainly never know it from its complete lack of resemblance.

12
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L (Leth)

Leth
The letter "L" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

Turn "Leth" ninety degrees to the right, and you've got an italicized "L."

Boom.

13
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M (Mern)

Mern
The letter "M" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

"Mern"'s shape makes me think of a chisel, but it's really the letter "M" in Aurebesh.

14
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N (Nern)

Nern
The letter "N" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

First "Mern," now "Nern." Mern and Nern. C'mon, that's fun to say.

Nern looks like a backwards "N" with one curved edge.

15
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O (Osk)

Osk
The letter "O" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

It may not be circular, but it's close enough that you can see the "O" in "Osk."

16
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P (Peth)

Peth
The letter "P" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

"Peth" could easily be a stylized lower-case "U" in a fancy typeface. But it's really Aurebesh's "P."

17
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Q (Qek)

Qek
The letter "Q" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

I really hope this is pronounced "Keck," because that would be awesome.

"Qek" is the letter "Q."

18
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R (Resh)

Resh
The letter "R" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

"I" looked like a "1." Now "R" looks like a "7." Weird.

This is actually "Resh," the Aurebesh version of "R." Never would've guessed, eh?

19
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S (Senth)

Senth
The letter "S" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

I'm sorry, but "Senth," the Aurebesh letter "S," looks like a broken printer's tile. I don't get the design of it at all.

20
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T (Trill)

Trill
The letter "T" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

Flip "Trill," and you've got an umbrella that's kind of like a "T."

21
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U (Usk)

Usk
The letter "U" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

"Usk" is very close to the "U" it's based on.

22
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V (Vev)

Vev
The letter "V" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

Clearly, this is a letter "Y." In English.

In Aurebesh, this is "Vev," the "V" character. It seems odd to me, too.

23
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W (Wesk)

Wesk
The letter "W" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

You look at this and see a rectangle.

Residents of the Star Wars galaxy see "Wesk," the letter "W."

24
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X (Xesh)

Xesh
The letter "X" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

"Xesh" is like somebody cut an "X" in half and added a line at the bottom.

25
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Y (Yirt)

Yirt
The letter "Y" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

Imagine a single line extending from the middle bottom of "Yirt" and you have a "Y." Probably not a coincidence.

26
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Z (Zerek)

Zerek
The letter "Z" in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

Sure does look like a lower-case "d" but this, my friend, is the letter "Zerek," aka "Z."

27
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Numbers and Punctuation

Punctuation Marks
Punctuation marks in Aurebesh. Robin Parrish / Font by David Occhino

No numbers have ever been officially recognized in Aurebesh; most fonts you'll find typically use a stylized version of our English numerals.

But punctuation gets used quite frequently. To the left you can see a selection of the most commonly-used punctuation marks. A comma is a small line, for example, while a period is two of the same. And since Star Wars uses "Credits" as its currency, the dollar sign gets substituted here with a credits sign (which is basically a "Resh" with two little lines added).

 

The version of the "Aurebesh" font used here was created by graphic designer David Occhino. Download it for free on his website.