890: Etymology

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Etymology
For some reason, my childhood suspension of disbelief had no problem with the fact that this ancient galaxy is full of humans, but was derailed by language. There's no Asia OR Europe there, so where'd they get all the Indo-European roots?
Title text: For some reason, my childhood suspension of disbelief had no problem with the fact that this ancient galaxy is full of humans, but was derailed by language. There's no Asia OR Europe there, so where'd they get all the Indo-European roots?

Explanation

This comic is a reference to the sci-fi classic Star Wars. Obi-Wan Kenobi (on the left with the beard) and Luke Skywalker (who is on the left side of the table in the first frame) are trying to get off the planet Tatooine secretly and they enlist help from Han Solo and Chewbacca. Chewbacca is the very hairy one because he is a wookie from the planet Kashyyyk. Han Solo's ship is named the "Millennium Falcon".

Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. Randall (the author of the comic) wonders what Luke would say to Han if he had no idea what a falcon was. We as viewers accept it because of the etymology of the word in our world, but there is no evidence of a falcon in the Star Wars universe - especially for Luke who has been raised only on Tatooine, a desert world.

In the title text, Randall references the fact that Star Wars is set "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" and is curious how humans came to be in the Star Wars universe even though they (or we I guess) were not yet on Earth. The reference to Indo-European roots is another reference to etymology. As an example, certain words will have Indo-European roots because the word originated in Indo-European languages.

Transcript

[Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca are sitting in Chalmun's Spaceport Cantina, a wretched hive of scum and villainy.]
Han Solo: Han Solo. I'm captain of the Millenium Falcon.
Luke Skywalker: What's that?
Han: It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 Parsecs!
Luke: No, what's a falcon?
Han: ...


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Discussion

It always bothered me how an independent gunslinger with no team of engineers or assistants has a faster ship than the entirety of the empire and all it's technical expertise. Where did he get his funding and kit from? Davidy²²[talk] 10:09, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

The same place as the Falcon.... gambling with people like Lando? (Also Falconry, by whatever name, was practiced in Mesopotamia and by the Bedouin in arguably at least partially desert-planet-like areas. It's quite possible that the ancestral 'Falcons' or equivalent translator-microbe-referenced creatures originated on Tatooine. A long, long time later, in a galaxy (and planet) much, much less far away (basically, here... and now) our Earth falcons are at least one branch of descendents.) Now, no doubts "Millenium" refers to the Imperial (previously Republican) standard years, but it begs the question of what the length and nature of the Tattooine 'year' is, given it's a binary-star orbitter, eh? ;) 178.99.81.144 16:51, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

He won the ship from Lando, that guy owned his own city. Military ships carry much more equipment and are less manoeuvrable. 184.66.160.91 19:21, 16 July 2013 (UTC)

Plus, most commercial and government ships have extra equipment for safety and reliability. If you take a car, strip everything out of it, and put a nitrous oxide injection system in it, it will be faster than any cop car. The cop car will be able to withstand an accident much better (they are often rated for 70-mph rear-end collisions) and will typically start every time the key is turned.
Oh, and I think Lando did not yet run Cloud City when Han won the Falcon from him. I recall Han being surprised to find out Lando had won Cloud City, in The Empire Strikes Back. Tryc (talk) 16:45, 23 July 2013 (UTC)
I've heard this question a few times before, I always just assumed he was lying. He was a rogue and a scoundrel, trying to talk up his knackered old ship. The stuff in the Extended Universe always seemed to take it as gospel that the ship was this amazing super vessel, but I still think it's more likely that he was just spinning a tale. Elaverick (talk) 13:48, 12 December 2016 (UTC)

In George Lucas' novelization of the first movie (which I have heard was ghosted by Alan Dean Foster), Obi-Wan remarks to Luke that "Even a duck must be taught how to swim." And Luke replies, "What's a duck?" In another place, Luke was thinking "about a dog he had once owned" right before another event (I believe it was a ship going into hyperspace). 108.162.221.246 22:08, 22 April 2015 (UTC)

Making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs actually makes sense. The Kessel Run is a run that travels near a black hole, as well as multiple drops into and out of light speed. Therefore, the shorter the distance it took for a pilot to make the run, the faster the ship was (to negate the gravitational pull of the black hole) and the better the pilot was (to be able to maneuver the ship more tightly). So the Kessel Run was actually a race to do it in the shortest distance possible, not the shortest time. 24 October 2016 162.158.69.100 17:38, 24 October 2016 (UTC)

This same sort of thing also comes up when you think about the names of many rebel/alliance fighters. The Star Wars universe does not use our alphabet. You can probably justify the X-wing since an X is a pretty common symbol outside of being a letter, but one must wonder about all those other letter-wings, like the Y, A, B, H, etc. Fighters shaped after letters that don't seem to exist in Star Wars. 172.68.58.53 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)