SNL Has Some Questions About the Star Wars School System
"Man, how do you all speak so many languages?"
In a cut-for-time sketch from last night’s episode, Saturday Night Live asked a crucial Star Wars question: How do these people speak so many damn languages?
Framed as an “exclusive scene” from an upcoming Star Wars film, the skit follows The Mos Eisley Five smugglers: Mikey Day’s Han Solo analogue, Kate McKinnon’s Rey analogue, the droid E2, a Chewbacca lookalike called Dogtada, and host Charles Barkley’s Jedi character. They’re on a mission to make a deal with Goba, Kenan Thompson’s Jabba-esque alien, to free Pete Davidson’s captured Rebellion pilot.
As the negotiations proceed, Barkley interrupts to ask how they can all possibly understand each other: “Man, how do you all speak so many languages? This is crazy. I only speak human.”
“These aliens are talking to you in their language. You answer them back in our language. And everybody understands each other! Makes me feel stupid. How’d y’all learn all this?”
In part, they’re just playing on a convention of cinematic language here. Because English-speaking viewers don’t always like to read subtitles, it’s just more pleasant for them if conversations with characters like Jabba or Greedo don’t happen entirely in an alien language. (Though some sequences, such as in Return of the Jedi, take place entirely in alien languages with CP30 translating.)
And Star Wars nerds will be quick to point out that the canon does have some explanations for so many characters’ apparent linguistic mastery. To explain away the fact that every alien seems to understand English, Star Wars canon has the established lingua franca of the galaxy, Basic (a.k.a English on-screen). Meanwhile, Force-sensitive people can supposedly comprehend languages more easily; characters like Han Solo spent a lot of time around Wookies; characters like Luke grew up on planets dominated by aliens who spoke other languages. Droids technically speak binary, which organic life forms who spend enough time around them can eventually come to understand.
But as someone who grew up in the U.S., where less than a quarter of the population is even bilingual, much less multilingual, I did find this skit pretty funny. Aliens I can imagine. Spaceships, sure. But a world where everyone happily, easily speaks a bunch of different languages instead of complaining on Fox News about pressing “1” for English? Woah, there, Star Wars.
(Featured image: screengrab)
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