The world premiere of the latest sequel of the “Star Wars” franchise, “The Force Awakens” happened just a day ago, and it had been revealed that many languages used in Star Wars were based on the Tibetan, Finnish, Haya and Quechua languages.
The film Stars Wars has a complete universe of its own, inhabited by several alien species speaking various languages. Compared to the constructed languages of other hit films such as Star Trek (Klingon) and the Lord of the Rings (Elvish), some of the languages used in Star Wars are partially or fully based on real dialects and languages. Some of these languages are spoken in Scandinavia, Himalayas, Africa and Central America.
The Star Wars baddies such as Jabba, the Hutt and his friends speak the richest language in the franchise. This groups speak Huttese, which was based on Quechua, one of the native languages in Peru. However, Huttese is not full-fledged Quechua as sound designer Ben Burtt had only asked Larry Ward, a voice actor to listen to actual recordings of the language and the voice actor later had to improvise the on-screen language. According to Howard Tsai, a South American Anthropology lecturer at University of Michigan’s Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies, this goes to show that languages are hard to generate due to its complexity and when things do not correspond to actual syntax or grammar, what comes out would sound gibberish.
The Haya language that is spoken in Tanzania was used in the Return of the Jedi. It was the language spoken by a popular character called Nien Nunb. In the film, the language is called Sullustese while the character Nunb was voiced by Kenyan actor, Kipsang Rotich.
Two different species of characters from The Phantom Menace speak a bit of Finnish. They are Sebulba who is a Dug and Watto who’s a Toydarian. Sebulba answered. “Ole hyvä!” when Watto said “Kiitos!” These are Finnish phrases that translate to “You’re welcome” and “Thank you,” respectively. University of Washington Department of the Scandinavian Studies lecturer Ilmari Ivaska said that it is no longer surprising that Finnish has entered pop culture, as it was also used by J.R.R. Tolkien as a basis when the author was creating the Elvish languages for The Lord of the Rings.
South African language Xhosa is the basis for the click language used by the bug creatures called Geonosian in Star Wars, despite the fact that sound editor Matthew Wood invented it after studying the mating calls of penguins.
The lovable Ewoks speak a language called Ewokese that was created by Burtt as well. He based that on the Kalmyk, Nepali and Tibetan languages. Burtt said that he interviewed native speakers of those languages and had voice actors for the Ewoks listen to the recordings so that they could capture the style of the language phonetically.