There were a number of languages throughout the galaxy, of which the most common was Galactic Basic. It was not uncommon for beings to speak at least two languages in addition to their native tongue, particularly among those involved in space-faring occupations and those who had attended military or educational academies. For a comprehensive list of languages, see the category languages linked to at the bottom of the page.
- "The ability to speak does not make you intelligent."
- ―Qui-Gon Jinn
Galactic Basic Standard
Galactic Basic Standard, also known as Galactic Standard, was a constructed language, inspired largely by the languages of the various founding species of the Galactic Republic: the Humans, the Duros, and the Bothans. It was the lingua franca of the galaxy, and almost all Humans spoke it instead of their historical language.
Galactic Basic used the Aurebesh script.
Some aliens had difficulty speaking Basic, often due to the structure of their vocal cords or analogous organ.
Binary, or Droidspeak, was a language of beeps, trills, and whistles spoken primarily by astromech droids such as R2-D2. It was also spoken by other models of droid. Organic beings who spent a lot of time with droids could often pick up a basic understanding as well.
The Duros language remained a popular language among space travelers due to the abundance of Duro spacefarers, despite the predominance of Basic.
Geonosian was the language of the Geonosian species native to Geonosis. It consisted of click consonants, possible through the dual-mandibles of Geonosians—one moving vertically, and a second, internal set moving horizontally.
Shyriiwook was the main language of the Wookiees. It was considered the most emotive of Wookiee tongues, as opposed to the technical Thykarann or tribal Xaczik dialects. It could be understood by those who spoke Basic, but it was nearly impossible for non-Wookiees to pronounce.
Droids and computers
Droids and computers used either the natural languages that their masters used, usually Basic, or special machine languages. Protocol droids such as C-3PO were "fluent in over six million forms of communication" and were often employed as translators, with the ability to also download new language packs for languages such as Tusken. Astromech droids such as R2-D2 were able to understand commands in Basic and perhaps other languages, but could only communicate through an information-dense language of beeps and whistles; devices existed that could translate this language into Basic, such as the display in an X-wing cockpit that allowed the ship's astromech and pilot to commmunicate. Simpler droids communicated only through sounds indicating affirmative/negative, or other simple replies.
Behind the scenes
The languages of some fictional worlds have been worked out in great detail, with grammatical rules and large vocabularies, such as the Klingon language of Star Trek and J. R. R. Tolkien's countless invented languages. The Star Wars languages, in contrast, are not systematically worked out. The Wookiee growls and the beeps of the astromechs mainly carry emotional indicators for the audience via intonation, and Huttese is mainly a jumble of words taken from numerous real Human languages.
Other languages heard are longer chunks of actual Human languages, albeit ones likely unfamiliar to most of the audience. In A New Hope, for instance, the language spoken by the character Greedo in conversation with Han Solo is actually a simplified version of Quechua, an indigenous language of the Andean region of South America. In Return of the Jedi, Lando Calrissian's copilot, Nien Nunb, speaks the real Human language Haya, a dialect spoken in Tanzania. Similarly, the Ewok language was based on Kalmyk.
One can also hear some Finnish in The Phantom Menace. After the first lap of the pod race, Watto yells "Kiitos!" ("Thank you!" in Finnish) to Sebulba, and Sebulba answers "Ole hyvä!" ('You're welcome!").
In the The Clone Wars episode Liberty on Ryloth, an Aurebesh Republic display includes the text "UND UBERHAUPT," German for "and anyway." In The Academy, when Soniee and her fellow students break into the Government warehouse, her datapad says "ENTRARE," Italian for "enter."
Despite these inconsistences, a language guide to the most common Star Wars languages such as Huttese and Bocce exists: The Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide, which collects much of the data given in the books and movies surrounding the saga, forming some kind of official vocabulary, rules and phrases. Also covered in the book is Droidspeak, Ewokese, Gunganese, Jawaese, Neimoidian, Shyriiwook, Sullustan, and Tusken.