I love languages. That doesn’t mean it is easy for me to learn new languages (just ask my old French teacher) but I do love studying them.
Here are some statistics for you:
- There are over seven thousand recognised languages spoken on Earth today.
- Out of these seven thousand languages half of the world’s population speak at least one out of the most popular twenty three. The most popular languages include, Mandarin Chinese, English, Hindustani, Spanish and Arabic.
- Words that exist in one language but not another are called lacunas or lexical gaps. My favourite example of this is the fact that in the Romanian language they don’t have a word for shallow. If you was talking about a swimming pool in Romanian you would say “the deep end” and “the not so deep end”.
Fictional languages are common place in films, most notably Fantasy and Sci Fi. While the casual audience member may believe that the other races or species seen in these films are speaking gibberish with their dialogue subtitled beneath, in many cases the actors have learnt and are speaking an actual language.
The following are all languages you can study if you have the time on your hands:
- Alienese from Futurama.
- Na’vi from Avatar.
- Dothraki from Game of Thrones.
- Klingon from Star Trek.
- Elvish from The Lord Of the Rings.
These languages are popular at comicon, it isn’t unusual to hear two strangers speak to each other in Dothraki in the convention corridors. You can even take a degree in Klingon at a select few universities in America.
While all these languages are fascinating and I suggest that you investigate them at a later date, today I want to talk about the languages of the Star Wars universe.
The phrase “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…” is at the start of most Star Wars films (Footnote 1) and to create the impression of an endless galaxy the many different species of the Star Wars universe speak their own languages.
Chewbacca and other Wookies speak Shyriiwook which to our human ears sound like roars and grunts
Jabba the Hutt, and other members of his species, speak Huttese.
The Tuskin Raiders, infamous for the death of Shmi Skywalker and attacking Luke Skywalker, speak their own unknown language.
Due to the sheer number of different lifeforms and languages, protocol droids such as C3PO were created, to act as guides and translators (Footnote 2). While C3PO claims he is “fluent in over six million forms of communication” today I just want to focus on just one language, Binary otherwise known as Droidspeak.
My question is this: Who exactly can understand R2D2 and other non verbal droids?