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Languages in Star Wars

The fictional universe of Star Wars is a multilingual one, in which it is common to have either a passive or active understanding of multiple languages.

Table of contents
1 Humans and Humanoids
2 Droids and computers
3 Aliens
4 Writing
5 Language building

Humans and Humanoids

The language spoken most often by the human characters and by some non-humans is called Basic in novels and other supplementary materials (no relation to C. K. Ogden's Basic English or to the BASIC programming language), though this name is never mentioned in the films. This language is represented as English speech in the films, and is accordingly translated in versions of the films that are dubbed into other languages. Other fictional languages are left as is, sometimes with subtitles for the benefit of the audience.

In the films, Imperial officers usually speak with upper-class British accents, while Rebels have American accents.

Many interspecies conversations in the Star Wars universe are passively bilingual; that is, the humans speak Basic, while the non-humans speak their own or a regional language. Another language common on the planet Tatooine is Huttese, spoken by both non-human (Jabba the Hutt, Watto, Sebulba and others) and some human characters (particularly Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace).

It's worth noting that languages in the Star Wars universe are not always tied to specific species, just as in the real world languages are not always tied to specific nations or races, but can become the native language of a population of a different species. The Gungans of Naboo for instance speak a dialect of the human's Basic, and the Ewoks of the forest moon of Endor speak a "primitive dialect" of one of the six million other forms of communication that C-3PO is familiar with.

Droids and computers

Droids (robots) and computers in Star Wars may use the natural languages that surround them, usually Basic, or special machine languages. Protocol droids such as C-3PO are "fluent in over six million forms of communication" and are often employed as translators. Astromech droids such as R2-D2 are able to understand commands in Basic and perhaps other languages, but can only communicate through a language of beeps and whistles.


Wookiees such as Chewbacca are physically unable to speak Basic; their native language of roars and growls is extremely hard for humans to speak, but Han Solo does know how to speak it. In one of the novels, Leia Organa-Solo encounters a Wookiee with a speech impediment which conveniently renders him able to speak Basic.


There is relatively little writing in the Star Wars universe; most telecommunication is by audio or audio/visual transmission. Where there is writing, such as on display screens in vehicles or occasionally on the side of a building, it is often unclear how the writing relates to the languages being used.

Arabic numerals do appear throughout the films, mainly on computer displays counting down time or distance. At least one instance of written English crops up in A New Hope ("POWER - TRACTOR BEAM 12 (SEC. N6)"), but this appears to be an anomaly; text in the other films is either illegible, offscreen, or in a fictional script.

In the novel The Truce at Bakura, the Ssi-ruuk speak some sort of tonal language which involves whistles. A human prisoner devises an orthography for this language, combining musical notation with phonetic characters; however no details are shown in the book.

Language building

The languages of some fictional worlds have been worked out in great detail, with grammatical rules and large vocabularies, such as J. R. R. Tolkien's Elvish languages and the Klingon language of Star Trek. The languages of Star Wars, in contrast, are not systematically worked out. The Wookiee growls and the beeps of the astromechs mainly carry emotional indicators for the audience via intonation, and Huttese is mainly a jumble of words taken from numerous real human languages. An exception is the language spoken by the character Greedo in conversation with Han Solo in the cantina scene: this is actually the real, human language: Quechua

Still, a language guide to the most common Star Wars languages such as Huttese and Bocce exists: The Intergalactic Language and Travel Guide, which collects much of the data given in the books and movies surrounding the saga.

A standard written text called Aurabesh is occasionally used in the movies, and in electronic and board games such as Monopoly Star Wars.