Language Stories – Episode 4: Star Wars: A Language Story

Welcome to episode 4 of Language Stories. This time we’re in Tikal, Guatemala and we’re talking all things…Star Wars. In particular the languages of Star Wars.

There's plenty of languages in Star Wars. But how do they compare to other fictional languages? How are they created? And what about Yoda? Click through for this episode of Languages Stories.

Why Star Wars languages?

Because the new Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, is out today of course!

It seemed like a great chance to take a look at a bit of an anomaly in the constructed fictional languages world.

And besides, it’s Hollywood, right? So it still fits with the series topic of The Americas. Ha!

Why Tikal?

Because I’m very reliably informed that Tikal was used for filming scenes from Star Wars set at the rebel base of Yavin 4.

Also, Tikal is beautiful. This may be my favourite place to film a Language Stories episode yet!

The Video

The Podcast

Further Reading + Resources

Languages in Star Wars Wikipedia page – a good starting point.

Object Subject Verb Wikipedia page – if you want to learn more about how this word order works in various existing languages.

Star Wars: Linguists Explain The Way Yoda Speaks – great article from The Atlantic going into detail about Yoda’s speech.

Yoda in Different Languages Reddit thread – fascinating thread about how Yoda speaks in different languages when dubbed. The key info has been summarised at the top.

Yoda Translator – translate your (English) speech into Yoda speech!

Star Wars accused of race stereotypes – an article from 1999 when the first of the prequel series came out exploring the possible racism Star Wars has been accused of.

Jar Jar Binks: A Cultural Rorschach Test – an interesting article from the Chicago Tribune about Jar Jar Binks, including his use of language to an extent.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi will bother some people. Good. – an article (with spoilers!) about the latest film and inclusivity. A good follow up to the previous articles about Jar-Jar Binks.

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How did you enjoy this episode of Language Stories? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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About Lindsay Williams

Why hello there!
I’m Lindsay and I do Languages. I blog, vlog and teach all things language. I blog about languages right here at Lindsay Does Languages, and about travel over at Mundo Trundle. If you’re looking for language learning inspiration then stay a while. You might find just what you’re looking for. :)

  • BEST episode ever! I love Star Wars 😉

  • Alberto Moragon

    As far as I can tell, Star Wars is the best saga!

  • Dorothée

    When it comes to learning, I prefer the language to have a grammar^^
    But in general in movies or series, I join you: it doesn’t matter.

    Sometimes, when it’s subtitled I wonder why, especially when the character doesn’t understand. Currently, I watch “Outlander”, and the main character, Claire, is English and doesn’t get Irish. Me neither. And I feel it right not to, so we feel like her, apart and disliked. Not an invented language, but it shows my point!

    My best memory about an invented language is when I went to the theater with my cousins’ children to watch the Minions movie. The eldest said to his aunt after 5 or 10 minutes: “I don’t understand what they’re saying”, because at the beginning, there are only minions and they talk “merguez moules frites banana” (actual quote, but more at the end^^). He was 7 or 8 at that time. First approach of a foreign language!

    • Yes! I love that choice of adding/not adding subtitles for certain characters – and then it’s really funny when they’re speaking a language you understand but they’ve chosen not to subtitle it and you almost think…”I wish I didn’t speak that language” almost! 😉