The fan base for the Star Wars
franchise is large enough for the producers not to have to dumb down
the characterisation or story for the sake of capturing a larger audience (unlike the 2005
versions of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
and Doctor Who
However, either intentionally or unintentionally, the third episode of the Star Wars saga was given a name that a large number of people would have problems pronouncing. Very few Earth languages actually employ the phoneme /th/, which is of course found in Sith. Rumour has it that George Lucas named these crusaders of the Dark Side by borrowing the Celtic word sidhe, which means a fairy that conjures dead spirits. Why then did he modify it with a phoneme that even us English speakers try to avoid?
/th/ is a voiced interdental aspirate consonant of Greek origin, which is written as the Greek symbol theta by linguists . However it is not used in several major languages, including Chinese and Japanese (who would use a /s/ sound). It is not even found in several Indo-European languages like Italian, French or German (Germans would use a /t/ sound instead). You may be hard pressed trying to think of a foreign city or loan word that uses the /th/ phoneme (excluding of course Athens).
Svenska FOX förklaring till titeln, som de gav till Lucasfilm (och nu citerar jag direkt från mina officiella källor) lyder "Sith and Sithernas are VERY hard to pronounce in Swedish", vilket jag tycker är en högst märklig anledning till att förvanska titeln.
It is also not uncommon for native English-speaking children to have difficulty pronouncing /th/ correctly. Americans have also been in the habit of dropping or substituting /th/ for /dz/ or /t/, long before Allan Sherman sang Hello Mother, Hello Father.
How would you pronounce it if you had a lisp?
The Germans have their Die Rache Der Sith and the French have la revanche des Sith, but I have no idea how names of the dark Jedi knights are actually pronounced.