General Discussion > Linguistics



Some toughts about Huttese, an alien language (or "language") heard in Star Wars films!

The first appearance of Huttese was in the first SW film, the famous dialogue between Greedo and Han. Greedo is Rodian alien, but everywhere i have seen, the language is labeled Huttese, thenative language of his boss. When I first watched the film, i was immediatelly caught by its alienness, a result of Greedo's "electric" voice, the clicks, and overall exotic and alien flavor (even though I can't define how a language can or can not sound "exotic" and "alien").

Huttese is most notably heard in ROTJ, spoken by Jabba. I am not sure, but as much as my ear can tell, the phonotactics of his language is a bit different from Greedo's (eg. no clicks) although supposedly both speak "Huttese".

I am not sure how much "Huttese" is a conlang. That means, how much random and how much structurally elaborite. Can Greedo/Jabba's speech be analyzed gammatically against the english subtitles?  Can we extract some vocabulary or gammar from it? (I am positively sure that "som'pitaley" means "too late" but not sure about anything beyond that). There has been a comical booklet about the SW universe called "Galactic Phrasebook" and contained some information about Huttese, its status an history, and provides some phrases and vocabulary. I think that some guys from the film production were involved in this book (Ben Burtt?). Still, I am not sure how structured is all this and how consistent to what we hear in the movies. and today it's easy to find such lists online, starting from Wookieepedia for example.

I have read many times, that the dialogue writers based Greedo's alien language on Quechua, a native south american language associated with the Incas.
I have also read somewhere that this choice was a little controversial, because during the 60s and 70s Von Daniken was at his prime with his theories that some ancient civilizations, most notably the Mayans and the Incas, had connections to aliens. The objectors thought that having alien Greedo speaking Quechua would be a nod to these (in)famous theories, and would be offensive to the natives of Peru and the Quechua speakers. However I am not sure if this was true and what extent the controversy reached.

Now what exactly "based on Quechua" means is another loose thread. It can mean anything from "a translator wrote the dialogue on actual Quechua" to "they took random Quechua words and arranged them to gibberish" and to "they made a conlang that emulates the sounds of Quechua" (in the same manner that Tolkien's Elvish emulates Celtic).

Actually I have some encyclopedic knowlege on Quechua to the extent that I can recognise it when I hear, and I can say that Greedo's speech doesn't remind to me Quechua at all. Actualy he uses sounds nonexistent in Quechua. On the other hand I asked a Quechua speaker, and he could tentativelly identify some words, which however are unrelated to the subtitled meaning.

On the other-other hand (my third one, lol), Jabba's Huttese sound more Quechua to me than Greedo's. Some endings like -anki, -spa, -ska can evoke Quechua suffixes.

Unfortunately my limited knowledge on Quechua and zero knowledge on Huttese don't allow for further analysis or comparisons.

Hmm, I didn't look about this more earlier but I see it looks quite interesting :)

Nitram lu oe furia ngeyä eltur tìtxen si!

This is a cool/cute video about Huttese, with phrases from said book by Ben Burtt.

I admit that whenever i hear Huttese, it always has a unique "Star Wars-y" ring to it.

Good video! Irayo for sharing :)


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