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Much has been written about various languages created for the Star Wars universe. There is even a Huttese translator to convert English into something Jabba the Hutt would say. But Chewie's grunts and growls all sound similar to me.

Does the Wookie language have actual vocabulary and syntax? (Obviously looking for out-of-universe answers.)

EDIT:

To clarify, I'm wondering whether Lucas and others spent any time creating vocabulary and syntax for Wookinese as they did for other languages like Huttese.

  • Is your question "if I had a wookie translator, would it give me correct translations if I fed it different Chewbacca's growls from different eposiodes?" – Mouvier Mar 22 '18 at 13:14
  • Related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/114177/… – BCdotWEB Mar 22 '18 at 13:17
  • @Mouvier My question is whether Lucas and others spent time developing vocabulary and syntax as they did for other languages in the Star Wars universe. – BrettFromLA Mar 22 '18 at 15:10
  • Related: Constructed Languages – OrangeDog Mar 22 '18 at 15:28
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    Was at a local bookstore last night and I came across a language companion's guide to the SW universe.. it had Wookie languages listed, and proceeded to provide a list of common words/phrases. There were maybe 70-80 listings, and the entire Wookie language entry was only 4-5 pages long. So, there does exist vocabulary, but I'm not sure about a formal syntax. – Charles Mar 26 '18 at 12:32
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There are three dialects Wookies can speak, Shyriiwook, Thykarann and Xaczik. However Chewbacca speaks only Shyriiwook.

From Star Wars news article,

You may think the Wookiee language can’t be too complicated. A howl here, a gruff there. But the reality is there are actually three different languages spoken by the species, all consisting of the same growly howling format. Chewbacca speaks a dialect called Shyriiwook, while other Wookiees may speak either Thykarann or Xaczik. Shyriiwook is the most common to understand, however, as both Han Solo and Rey can decipher Chewie’s grunts.

Now coming to your question,

Does the Wookie language have actual vocabulary and syntax?

Yes. In fact, it has. From the same article,

Fun fact: Wookiees have 150 words for “wood” but no word for “artist.” They see their amazing carving abilities as a survival skill, not a talent.

Since it mentions words, it means they have vocabulary.

A few words taken from Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know(Wikia link to the book with the same name),

How to speak Shyriiwook

"WYAAAAAA!" = "Hello!"

"AARRR WGH GGWAH" = "Jump to hyperspace"

"ROOOARRGH UR ROO" = "I have a bad feeling about this"

"WWWAH RRROOOAAAH WHA?" = "Want to play some holo-chess?"

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    Reading through that article, it's not entirely clear to me that all of this information is "out of universe." For instance, the claim that "Wookies have" 150 words for wood - are these 150 words documented somewhere in the real world, or is this an "in universe" fun fact from some Star Wars novel or something? The fact that they say "Wookies have" instead of "Lucas created" leaves me wondering. Also, the (supposed) Sheriiwook phrase for "I have a bad feeling about this" looks suspiciously like Scooby Doo talk... – Steve-O Mar 22 '18 at 13:28
  • @Steve-O Thanks for clarifying my question: are the words documented somewhere IRL? – BrettFromLA Mar 22 '18 at 15:13
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    @BrettFromLA They're in the book I linked. – A J Mar 22 '18 at 15:17
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    @Steve-O These words are listed in the book I mentioned. – A J Mar 22 '18 at 15:36
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The fact that Han Solo understands the growls and howls indicates that Chewbacca is communicating in some form.

Similarly, in real life, dogs barks may all sound the same to us but it's pretty obvious (if you're in tune with your dog) that their barks have different meanings. Porpoises have a very complex language and can coordinate attacks on fish by using a series of clicks.

So, while there may not be an actual "dictionary" of Wookie, it is implied that they are communicating through language. It may or may not contain actual "syntax", but it's obviously a language that Han Solo understands.

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    This appears to be an in-universe answer, not what the question is asking. – OrangeDog Mar 22 '18 at 15:26
  • It kinda covers both, actually. – Johnny Bones Mar 22 '18 at 16:05

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