Fairly early on in The Force Awakens, Finn and Rey run into Han Solo and Chewbacca. One of the running gags in the Star Wars films is that very few people actually understand Chewie's language (Shyriiwook) besides Han.

We know Rey speaks "droid", since she converses with BB-8 pretty regularly. But can she understand Chewie's speech as well?

This would seem to be an important development, since by the end of the movie,

Han Solo has offered Rey a permanent place on the Millenium Falcon, and after his death, she seems to inherit it from him.

But I don't recall seeing her reply to Chewie directly, and I can't think of how she would have learned to speak Wookie growing up on Jakku.

Is there any evidence that she can understand what Chewie is saying?

  • She didn't spend her whole life on Jakku. It's possible, well probable really, that she was exposed to it before she was left on Jakku.
    – Kevin
    Dec 22, 2015 at 17:36
  • 1
    We see a flashback of her, as a young child, on Jakku, being left behind by her "parents". She didn't seem old enough to have spent time learning Wookie. Though I suspect we will find out there's more to her background in the upcoming sequels...
    – KutuluMike
    Dec 22, 2015 at 17:38
  • Also possible she could've been exposed to it while on Jakku.
    – TylerH
    Dec 22, 2015 at 17:39
  • @MikeEdenfield Young children are quite adept at picking up languages. Rey was easily old enough to have picked up a basic understanding had she spent enough time around a wookie or two.
    – Kevin
    Dec 22, 2015 at 17:52
  • 2
    Yes, but young children who learn languages and then don't ever use them after they're 5-6 don't generally retain their ability to understand that language later in life.
    – Catija
    Dec 23, 2015 at 15:59

2 Answers 2


Rey seems to have at least a basic understanding of Shyriiwook

All quotes from the novelization.

She responds directly to Han and Chewie

She nodded. “It’s just us.” She nodded once to her left. “Us and a droid.”

A second shape appeared above and beside their inquisitor. It was likewise most definitely not a stormtrooper. It was also much, much bigger than its blaster-wielding companion. A battery of sounds issued from between thick lips, something halfway between a moan and a question.

“No, it’s true,” Rey responded. “We’re the only ones on board.”

Finn gaped at her. “Wait— you can understand that thing?”

She translates for Finn.

She tried to find something to say to that, something worthy of the sentiment and the risk they had undertaken. She failed miserably. Chewie, however, had something of his own to add. Whatever the Wookiee had uttered caused tears to well up in her eyes. Having never found himself in such a position before, Finn was unsure how to respond. Knowing well her inner toughness, he wondered what Chewbacca had said that could have inspired such a reaction.

“What’d he say?”

She sniffed and wiped at her face. “That it was your idea.”

She again responds directly to Chewie.

“The oscillator is the only sensible target,” Finn told him. “But there’s no way to get inside.”

“There is a way.”

Everyone turned toward Rey. It was Chewie who ventured the question that had to be asked.

“I’ve seen inside these kinds of walls,” she told them as the sky overhead continued to rain destruction. “The mechanics and instrumentation are the same as the Star Destroyers I’ve spent years inside salvaging. Get me to a conventional junction station, I can get us in.”

Less definitive is their exchange aboard the Falcon

In the cockpit, Rey headed for the copilot’s seat, only to find her way blocked by a massive, hirsute form.

“Chewie, the Falcon flies better with two people at the controls, you know that. I’ve already sat in that seat. I’m ready to do so again.”

A series of moans came from the Wookiee. Then he turned— and sat down. In the copilot’s seat.

Rey felt herself tearing up. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”

Chewie groaned and, to make certain she grasped his meaning, gestured to his left. Toward the pilot’s position.

  • Do those scenes from the bookification also happen that way in the original film? In that case you might want to reference the primary source material.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Dec 22, 2015 at 14:01
  • @NapoleonWilson as far as I recall, yes, but I've only seen it once. interestingly, the novelization tends to actually be missing small things from the film instead of adding to it. (e.g. Kylo hitting his sides during the forest battle)
    – phantom42
    Dec 22, 2015 at 14:02
  • I remember the first one, the exchange in her rescue. As far as I know, the other two conversations didn't happen in the movie. At the oscillator, Han says something about blowing it up but there's no Rey or Chewie dialogue, and at the end, Chewie's already sitting down when the scene starts. There's only a bit of non-verbal communication there.
    – KutuluMike
    Dec 22, 2015 at 14:03
  • 2
    In the movie, there is one more exchange when they first meet Chewie. Rey responds to something he says when they're first discovered and Finn exclaims "You can understand that thing?!"
    – nukeforum
    Dec 22, 2015 at 16:12
  • 2
    Finn: “Wait— you can understand that thing?” Solo: "And he can understand you..." (I don't remember the rest, but just verifying this exchange happened in the film for sure)
    – user23604
    Dec 22, 2015 at 17:32

Yes. According to Pablo Hidalgo's TFA Visual Dictionary:

Rey's interaction with offworlders has allowed her to learn nonhuman languages such as Wookie and astromech binary.

And yes, if this reads to you like closer to fanfiction or a poorly worded Wookiepedia article ("Wookie vs. Shyriiwook"), welcome to new, kid-friendly Disney canon.

  • Is it really misspelled as Wookie, rather than Wookiee?
    – Obie 2.0
    Dec 29, 2016 at 6:15
  • @Obie2.0 0 i never had any idea how to spell that right. Then again, I had a SFF.SE post where I misspelled "Voldemort", active and still misspelled after 4 years and several edits including by HP gold tag badge holder :)
    – DVK
    Dec 29, 2016 at 13:06

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