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Babbelfish, universal translator, what?

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > STAR WARS Discussion
Babbelfish, universal translator, what?

FlippinFlapJack's Avatar

05.14.2012 , 08:03 AM | #1
In all futuristic sci-fi universes there is the inescapable problem of the language barrier between people from different planets. They all seem to have some way around it like the "universal translator" in Star Trek or, the most humorous, babel fish in the Hitchhiker's guide "trilogy".

In Star Wars, however, a different approach is taken. The aliens all speak in their native tongue but are somehow understood and are able to understand what what everyone else is saying.

So how do they do that? Is everyone in the SW universe fluent in 48 languages? If so, why the translator droids? Is the force somehow involved?

Then, there seems to be so many contradictory situations like Han Solo understanding Chewbaca but not understanding the ewoks. How exactly does the Sith Inquisitor understand a 2,000 year old language from an extinct species? Are classes offered in the Dashade language on Koriban?

It could be that I am just not versed enough in SW lore to know. If anyone knows or has a link to an article or thread that explains it, please post.
Only a Sith deals in absolutes. --Obi Wan Kenobi

Ranadiel_Marius's Avatar

05.14.2012 , 08:19 AM | #2
Not everyone in the galaxy can understand every language. I recall specifically an instance on Tatooine where a villian is talking with a Gamorian via holo. The Gamorian says something and the villian responds, "Marvelous. I don't know what you said, but marvelous."

So really it is just our PCs that are able to understand everything. And for most languages that can be explained. I mean I am fairly certain that there is a force ability that lets force users get the general gist of what someone says in another language. The smuggler and bounty hunter probably picked up a few languages while working in the underworld because it makes negotiations easier. For the Trooper there is actually a conversation when meeting Yuun for the first time if you bring Tanno about how Yuun's native tongue is part of special forces required training(conversation comes up because Tanno doesn't understand it). I think it would be safe to assume that there are other languages included in the training as well. Presumably the IA would have similar language training requirements for his job.

Now there is a slight problem with this explanation when discussing people who speak Rakatan. I mean the smuggler knowing what is essentially a dead language for a species believed to be a myth by the few who know of it....yeah that is a bit of a stretch. With those situations, just accept it is for player convenience and move on.
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Temeluchus's Avatar

05.14.2012 , 10:09 AM | #3
I have always been of the mind that certain languages are probably taught in schools throughout the galaxy as a large portion of the galaxy speaks one or more of them and could make communication easier. Galactic Basic would be one since it appears to be the standard in SWU, possibly Huttese and Jawaese for trade and business languages,etc. I figured the typical educated person in the SWU probably speaks their cradle tongue(maybe more than one if the come from a multi species family)Basic, and a few others that the education system where they were schooled designated as important.

Revan used a Force technique to rip the Rakatan language from Rakata and to drive Basic into their heads, as The One explains in KOTOR. So I always figured the Sith force users used a similar technique when needed and there is possibly a kindler,gentler version for the Jedi to use.

I thought the Imperial Agent and Trooper probably learned multiple languages in a place similar to what the American military and intelligence communities use, the Defense Language Institute. Basically, you get a 24+ week intensive course in a language, and when you come out from it, you may not be fluent, but can carry on conversations and have a more than elementary grasp of the language. Then the probably picked up or polished the languages in the different postings.

It makes sense for the BH and smuggler to have learned languages from their contract dealings and travels. They may not be fluent in all the languages but have a basic understanding of them.
"Men call me Darkstar, and I am of the night.”

DaWaffle's Avatar

05.14.2012 , 11:29 AM | #4
Perhaps Khem Val has some kind of force technique that lets people understand him? That's my best guess.

Xatasha's Avatar

05.15.2012 , 09:24 PM | #5
Languages are there to add flavor to the movies and game. C3PO has tons of languages he knows as do most droids. More than likely if your not a PC or a main character in a movie you use a droid to talk to aliens.

Henu's Avatar

05.15.2012 , 09:40 PM | #6
This has a very simple answer.. its going to shock some of you so i hope your sitting down... ready... None of this is real, its all made up, make believe or fiction, Not Real.. so it does not have to make sense.
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Temeluchus's Avatar

05.16.2012 , 11:12 AM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Henu View Post
This has a very simple answer.. its going to shock some of you so i hope your sitting down... ready... None of this is real, its all made up, make believe or fiction, Not Real.. so it does not have to make sense.
Thanks for the helpful contribution. All of us that are sane,semi-sane or borderline insane are aware that this is not real; the bat poop crazy people might believe their characters and the SWU are real.

However, games or lore usually try to explain things reasonably to help with immersion or questions like this that arise. For example, why would anyone use a melee weapon when ranged weapons provide a safer alternative? Answer: personal shields have become so strong that they can suppress multiple blaster shots, thus a melee weapon would inflict damage much quicker.
"Men call me Darkstar, and I am of the night.”

Mavryk's Avatar

05.17.2012 , 01:56 AM | #8
I think it is learnt and not a universal translator. As Lowbacca from the Young Jedi knight series had a translator droid attached to the hip to help translate Shryyywook to everyone else.

There are two main languages spoken in the Star Wars universe: Basic (Usually English but depending on if its localized) and Huttese. The other languages in the movies required translators, like only Han could understand Chewie, Artoo usually required translation from Threepio, heck Threepio's whole purpose was being a translator droid which would be pointless if they had a universal translator.

In terms of the game, it's just there to add flavor as suggested. In SWG players had to teach other players their home language before they could understand what they were saying (if they weren't using basic) but even then Twi'leks had their own language that used their Lekku to talk that only other Twi'leks could understand.
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Maaruin's Avatar

05.17.2012 , 09:43 AM | #9
Well, there is a companion gift called "Czerka Universal Translator". I think it isn't really universal (that's just a marketing name), but it has some languages stored on it. And maybe you can download some more languages. You have to pay for it, of course.
The PCs probably get their translator form their superiors and it has some more languages stored. (Smuggler and BH might get some upgrade for theirs when they do the first quests where Rakata appear.)
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