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Star Wars Languages

Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt

Here’s something I’ve never understood. Most Star Wars characters seem to know multiple alien languages–for example, Han understands everything Jabba the Hutt, Greedo, and Chewbacca say–but they never speak any of them. There are so many conversations where one person is speaking in grunts and growls and the other person is speaking English, and they both understand each other perfectly. But if they both know the language, why don’t they both just speak it?

I’m not fluent in Spanish, but if someone says something I understand in Spanish, my natural instinct is to respond in the same language, even if it sounds a little clumsy. They do that in other fictional universes, too, most notably The Lord of the Rings (though that story actually features original languages with their own unique grammar and vocabulary, unlike Star Wars). 

So why doesn’t Han ever speak “Huttese” when he’s talking to Jabba? Or why won’t Jabba speak English? Someone please explain this to me!


One thought on “Star Wars Languages

  1. Well, first of all you have to have in mind that Tolkien actually created a number of languages, each with a unique grammar and vocabulary as you said, rather than just some random noises, grunt and growls (that’s what I hear at least) we call languages in Star Wars universe. It was probably easier to incorporate Tolkien’s languages in the movie than Lucas’ ones. In The Lord Of The Rings, the “English” that we understand is probably something like a common language in the fictional world that everybody understands and speaks (just like in Game of Thrones now). I guess, it it quite similar in Star Wars films, although it kind of annoys me as well the fact we never had a chance to hear Han Solo actually speak any other language that “the common one”. On the other hand, we heard Gandalf speaking more than one, Aragorn and Legolas also.

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