The Language of Star Wars – Part 1


The Star Wars fanosphere is abuzz with anticipation for Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Will the new films capture the style and mystique of the original trilogy?

One of our favorite elements of the Star Wars universe is the brilliant use of language. Diverse species from thousands of planets don’t just speak proper English, but use a variety of sounds and styles to enrich the multilingual dialogue between our favorite characters.


“Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained.”

Yoda’s iconic passive voice rearranges the order of subjects, verbs, and objects, breaking the rules of traditional English. But far from coming across as “weak-minded,” Yoda’s speech pattern makes him seem mysterious and sage. The films do not record dialog with other members of Yoda’s species, so it is difficult to tell whether Yoda speaks the dialect of his people or his own idiolect. Either way, if Yoda makes an appearance in The Force Awakens, perhaps as an apparition as in the end of Return of the Jedi, then maybe we’ll get to enjoy his voice again.


“Beep beep.”

Unlike many of the galaxy’s other foreign languages, R2-D2’s meeps and beeps have never needed subtitles. Occasionally, C-3PO and others rephrase Artoo’s statements in the form of a question (“What message? The one you’re carrying in your rusty innards!”), but generally, Artoo’s digital voice is enough to communicate his thoughts and feelings. His musical riffs expressed fear while creeping through the canyon on Tatooine, sadness when his scanners couldn’t detect Luke and Han on Hoth, and playfulness while periscoping through Yoda’s bog. Artoo is returning this December, and we wonder what new emotions might be coming. For instance, how would R2-D2 beep rivalry … or love?

Next Post

Jabba the Hutt’s foreign language was written to help audiences believe the dialog and understand what was happening. Jar Jar Binks may not have been that popular with adult fans, but there is a big, lucrative reason why he spoke the way he did. Will new characters in The Force Awakens share Jabba’s linguistic accessibility or Jar Jar’s profitable appeal?

Do you like how Yoda speaks? What relationship do you predict between R2-D2 and BB-8? Join the conversation!


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