How Did Han and Chewie Understand Each Other? Star Wars FAQ
In the original trilogy and beyond, Han Solo and best friend Chewbacca have no problems understanding one another, despite there being a clear language barrier. Even for a galaxy centered around mystical powers and fairy tale tropes, it's a head scratching detail, for sure. But is there a perfectly reasonable explanation for Solo and Chewie's unorthodox communication system? Well, let's find out!
Galactic Basic was the most prevalent language in the galaxy far, far away. Despite its reach, however, many species found it impossible to utilise Basic. For example, Ithorians and Wookiees possessed entirely different vocal chords to, say, Humans and Pantorans. But this did not halt their ability to learn and understand the language. This explains why Chewbacca could only speak in Shyriiwook and how he was able to understand his rebel companions.
Now that we've answered one half of the puzzle, let's turn our attention to everyone's favourite Corellian. Firstly, we need to recognise Han's upbringing in Legends, as his canonical backstory is not as detailed. As an orphan, Solo bounced around from one gang to another, learning every trick of the scamming game. It was during his tenure with Garris Shrike that he met and befriended Wookiee Dewlanna. She basically raised Han as her son, and even taught the youngster Shyriiwook, a language he would understand for the rest of his life.
These answers only raise more questions, unfortunately, as I'm sure most of you are now wondering how Luke Skywalker could understand R2-D2, or why Rey and BB-8 were able to communicate with one another so easily. Well, to answer the first enquiry, Luke wasn't always attuned to R2's beeps and whistles. I mean, in A New Hope, C-3PO worked as the translator between the pair. That was until the Jedi and his astromech droid ventured into the vacuum of space together. Thankfully, Skywalker's X-wing came equipped with a built-in translator device for R2. But you've got to think, with time, Luke would have picked up certain droid speak here and there, giving him at least a basic understanding of R2's binary tones, even away from C-3PO or computers. As for Rey, well she learned non-Human languages, such as Wookiee and astromech binary, from offworld visitors to Jakku. It's as simple at that, really.
So, there we have it! Despite communicating in entirely different languages, Han and Chewie could understand one another through their knowledge of Basic and Shyriiwook. Furthermore, Luke utilised translators to comprehend R2's beeps and whistles, while Rey used the power of learning to speak several alien and droid languages. This means you can now watch the Star Wars saga films without pondering the same question we've all had for years. If you have a query about the galaxy far, far away that you would like answered at some point in this series, ask away in the comments section below.