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  1. #1

    Alien Languages and English

    This is a question that pertains to the entire saga really, but my son and I were watching A New Hope this weekend when he turned and asked me this question:

    (while watching the Han vs. Greedo scene in the Cantina)

    "Dad, if aliens can understand English and humans can understand alien languages, why don't they talk to each other in just one of them?"

    I sat for a moment letting that question sink in. My first reaction was, "Yeah, you're right!" Look at it this way, rarely if ever on Earth do two people converse back & forth using their own respective languages. They'll pick one and both use it for the duration of the exchange.

    However in every case (I think) throughout the Star Wars saga (except for a couple of instances with C3PO), all alien/human conversations take place with two languages, English and the other.

    My second reaction was "How astute of my son!" who is now thirteen to think of that. Considering everything else that I and others have discovered to be "wrong" with the movies, that one never occurred to me before. Interesting....

  2. #2
    Coincidentally that occured to me the other night when I had a gander at TPM - when Qui-gon is negotiating with Watto he speaks english whilst Watto uses his own language, whatever it is. I sometimes wonder are we supposed to believe theres a Star Trek style universal translator at work where each race hears their own language coming out of the other (which I assume to be the case since each conversationist always has an instantaneous response).

  3. #3
    I always chalked it up to different vocal cords not allowing all creatures to speak the same language. Possibly combined with a bit of racial chutzpah, kinda like how a lot of English speakers understand other languages but refuse to speak them unless absolutely necessary.
    Tommy, close your eyes.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by El Chuxter View Post
    I always chalked it up to different vocal cords not allowing all creatures to speak the same language. Possibly combined with a bit of racial chutzpah, kinda like how a lot of English speakers understand other languages but refuse to speak them unless absolutely necessary.
    That's kind of my theory, there might be physical limitations that wouldn't allow alien vocal chords to pronounce English and vice versa.

    For instance, the Wookiee language wouldn't be able to be spoken by humans and Wookiees wouldn't be able to speak English. So it's just a matter of learning to understand a language even without being able to speak it.

  5. #5
    Sometimes it's easier to understand what someone else is saying than to actually figure out how to say it in that language yourself. I also agree with the points made about physical limitations and the "racial chutzpah" as El Chuxter put it. In the case of Jabba, he's effing Jabba the Hutt! He doesn't need to speak the language of those lowly humans. I believe this was somewhat addressed in the Han Solo trilogy. I think Han Solo impressed Jabba by speaking Huttese or something. Also, I think EU has established the legacy of Hutts and how they view themselves as kind of above everyone else.

  6. #6
    I think its the TARDIS translator making everything sound your language
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Mad Slanted Powers View Post
    Sometimes it's easier to understand what someone else is saying than to actually figure out how to say it in that language yourself. I also agree with the points made about physical limitations and the "racial chutzpah" as El Chuxter put it.
    I'll second MSP's point and third El Chuxter's points. I know there have been any number of times with speakers of other languages where they've tried to say something in English and I've had no idea what they were trying to say, but then they've said it in their language and I got it right away. The same goes for me trying to say something in their language.

    However, it would make more sense if everyone spoke Huttese on Tatooine, since it's the lingua franca for the planet. I would have accepted a pidgin also, but at least they were working toward accuracy with code switching between English and Huttese.
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  8. #8
    I remeber reading in TPM's novelization that boy Anakin's use of the Force gave him the ability to understand alien tongues and he could tell if they were lying.
    This would only work for Force sensitives...

    Come to think of it, Han Solo never spoke a word of Wookie and that lyin' sack of foodoo Threepio BS-ed Owen Lars about speaking Bocci.
    McCoy: What do those super sensitive ears make of that, Mr. Spock?
    Spock: Wood. Rubbing on some kind of leather.

  9. #9

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Titanium View Post
    I remeber reading in TPM's novelization that boy Anakin's use of the Force gave him the ability to understand alien tongues
    Oh brother. What can't the Force do? It's the magic bullet that fills any plot hole.

    As seen ON TV. Buy The Force! Will cure ANY ailment or problem, real or otherwise. Batteries not included.

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