Our 5 Favorite Star Wars Languages

Check Out Our 5 Favorite Languages from Star Wars

Star Wars has been a behemoth of a film series, raking in well over $9 billion since the very first film came out in 1977. Since then, eight movies fitting into three incongruent trilogies, along with a prequel/sequel film and an anthology film, have been released, making it the second most profitable series of films of all time and one of the most well-known fantasy series.

 

All over the multitudes of planets, star systems, moons, asteroids, and other heavenly bodies featured in the films, we meet a diverse group of aliens, some more adorable and others more nefarious than. While the it’s clear that the languages these aliens speak and the sounds they produce are nothing like English (or are they?), the background for these alien languages is quite an interesting one.

 

Not a Con-Lang

One of the more notable details popping up in science fiction films and television series are constructed languages, or conlangs for short. J. R. R. Tolkien crafted beautiful and believable languages for Lord of the Rings with his background in linguistics, Marc Okrand published the Klingon Dictionary for Star Trek fans, Paul Frommer designed an indigenous language for the blue people of Pandora in Avatar, and David J. Peterson has spent years developing a series of languages for the various peoples in Game of Thrones. George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars series, didn’t push for such original languages in the films and instead worked with a sound engineer to create what is essentially garbled sentences of nonsense to take the place of languages while still allowing the audience to understand the emotions behind the noise.

 

George Lucas tapped the talent of Ben Burtt, who lead the creation of the alien languages in the original and prequel trilogies. “It usually meant doing some research and finding and existing language or several languages that were exotic and interesting, something that our audience – 99 percent of them – would never understand,” Burtt told MTV news in 2013. Burtt reportedly used sounds that were unrecognizable to the ears of English speakers, utilizing recordings of languages like Quechua (spoken in the Andes in South America), Haya (spoken in Niger-Congo), and Tibetan.

 

For the new trilogy, J. J. Abrams, the director of The Force Awakens, sought the help of YouTube star Sara Forsberg, who posted a viral video of her imitating languages while speaking gibberish. “They asked me to listen to Euro-Asian languages, so I listened to Gujarati and Hindi and languages from different islands in Asia,” she told Variety in 2015.

 

Without further ado, here are our favorite alien languages from Star Wars:

 

1.      Droid Speak (Binary)

 

Epitomized by the lovable droid R2D2 and other small robotic companions throughout the galaxy, the beeps, boops, whistles, and whoops are actually a somewhat complicated language that droids use to communicate with each other and humans. Notable characters throughout the films apparently understand the language, although we don’t ever see any human replicating the language.

 

This compilation of some common phrases taken from the films appeared on the Star Wars Wookiepedia page.

 

 

2.      Ewokese

 

Possibly the most iconic creatures from the original trilogy, or at least from Return of the Jedi, the Ewoks spoke an adorable, bubbly language to match their teddy bear appearances. In the interview with MTV News, Burtt revealed that the basis for the entire Ewok language was taken from a distorted and manipulated recording of an elderly refugee from Inner Mongolia, who they nicknamed Grandma Vodka. “And [she] had just recently come over and immigrated and didn’t speak any English. She would come in and speak for us and if she had a little vodka she was happy to do so,” Burtt said.

 

3.      Gungan

 

If Ewoks are the iconic creatures of the original trilogy, then the Gungans are the most iconic (and probably most hated) creatures from the prequel trilogy. Fans seemed unable to hide their disdain for the character Jar Jar Binks and were confused as to why George Lucas had such an absurd character play such a major role in the films (Darth Jar Jar, perhaps?). Gungan was first heard in the first episode of the prequel trilogy in 1999, The Phantom Menace, and George Lucas said he modeled the language after the way his son, who was six years old at the time, was speaking.

 

4.      Huttese

 

 

The monstrous gangster space slug, Jabba the Hutt, spoke his primitive-sounding language with a disturbing guttural bass. He first graced us with his presence on the screen in Return of the Jedi in 1983 with Huttese, with the recordings of a graduate student from Northern Arizona University speaking Quechua.

 

5.      Shyriiwook

 

If you watch more than the first couple of minutes into this video of the infamous and elusive Star Wars Holiday Special, you’ll get to see Chewbacca’s father, wife, and son speak in incomprehensible Wookie growls, bringing us to the last, but most certainly not least, language on our list, Shyriiwook, the language of the Wookies.

 

 

While Ata Translation Agency unfortunately doesn’t have the advanced technology necessary to translate Shyriiwook, Huttese, or Droid Speak, it does work with more than 300 languages and dialects that are spoken all over planet Earth. We work with a wide variety of translators, interpreters, editors, and other relevant language experts to provide you with high quality translation, interpretation, and localization services and more. Give us a call or send us an email now to get a free quote or learn more about our services.

 

Bonus Video: Bill Hader Does Star Wars Impersonations

About the Author:

Daniel is based out of Chicago and works as a writer, editor, and translator.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *