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PREFACE: I have seen this other thread and that question is about in-universe explanations but provides no out-of-universe production rationale for omitting some C-3PO “bleeping blooping” scenes which were clearly scripted. I am looking for an acknowledged and verifiable production rationale for the fact C-3PO is not shown speaking Binary bleeps and bloops from someone who worked on the films. Such as a director, producer, actor anyone who can be quoted as acknowledging this is what the script desired, but ultimately a discussion was made not to go that way because it seemed weird and such.

Straight to the point.

C-3PO has often glibly bragged about his translation abilities including supposedly knowing the binary language of moisture vaporators on Tatooine when the Jawas sold him to Uncle Owen. Since “Binary” is the language of bleeps and bloops used by droids such as R2-D2, why don’t we ever hear C-3PO bleeping and blooping. He’s always talking in English yet understanding other droids bleeps and bloops; why doesn’t his character speak in bleeps and bloops?

Is there any documented discussion from the filmmakers of why C-3PO on the one hand claiming to speak “Binary” but then on the other never actual demonstrating that ability in the actual movies? I found some evidence in The Empire Strikes Back script that demonstrates that in that film he was supposed to bleep and bloop to the computer on the Millennium Falcon when they were trying to fix the hyperdrive... But that scene clearly had no bleeps and bloops.

What the bleep happened?

The details.

In the first Star Wars film (aka: A New Hope), one of C-3PO’s selling points is he can program a binary load lifter. Here is key dialogue from the script; bold emphasis is mine:

OWEN: I have no need for a protocol droid.

THREEPIO: (quickly) Sir -- not in an environment such as this -- that’s why I’ve also been programmed for over thirty secondary functions that...

OWEN: What I really need is a droid that understands the binary language of moisture vaporators.

THREEPIO: Vaporators! Sir -- My first job was programming binary load lifter... very similar to your vaporators. You could say...

Okay, so we now we know that C-3PO can understand binary since he listens to R2-D2 all the time and understands him without issue. But when C-3PO is talking to R2-D2 he is just speaking in “Basic” (aka: English).

So in this scene where C-3PO claims he can communicate (Speak? Program?) in “Binary” how would that happen? We never hear him speak “Binary” although it’s clear he could understand it.

And similarly, I found this bit of related descriptive text in the script for The Empire Strikes Back; leaving scripted dialogue for context:

INT. MILLENNIUM FALCON - MAIN HOLD AREA:

Threepio whistles and beeps a strange dialect into the control panel in front of him. The control panel whistles back a few mystifying beeps.

THREEPIO: Oh, where is Artoo when I need him?

Han enters the hold area and kneels on the floor near the control box.

THREEPIO: Sir, I don’t know where your ship learned to communicate, but it has the most peculiar dialect. I believe, sir, it says that the power coupling on the negative axis has been polarized. I’m afraid you’ll have to replace it.

HAN: Well, of course I’ll have to replace it.

I assume the decision was made to not have C-3PO make bleeps and bloops in the actual released movie of The Empire Strikes Back since that would seem odd. Is there any documented discussion from the filmmakers of why C-3PO on the one hand claiming to speak “Binary” but then on the other never actual demonstrating that ability in the actual movies?

To be fair the film makers did show off C-3PO’s multiple language—and even sound effect—skills when he was telling the Ewoks the story of the Rebellion in Return of the Jedi but he never really bleeps or bloops; clip below (ignore snarky subtitles):

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    understood and VTC retracted ;) – Often Right Dec 21 '15 at 8:16
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But, he doesn’t claim he speaks binary he says he understands it:

OWEN: What I really need is a droid that understands the binary language of moisture vaporators.

THREEPIO: Vaporators! Sir -- My first job was programming binary load lifters... very similar to your vaporators. You could say...

In the case of R2-D2 - it is very obvious that astromech droids understand Basic (we see this with R2, and R4 in the prequels). However, they don’t seem to have been given voice-packs (or modulators?).

As for why understanding and not speaking Binary is helpful for programming vaporators or load lifters - again, these units are possibly capable of understanding Basic, but only give feedback in Binary. So, a translator is necessary to confirm that the droid/vaporator/lifter has been giving the correct programming.

We also only see C-3PO interact with a very small number of droids (R2-D2, EV-9D9, and that droid in Bespin) - and never with the Falcon's computer or the vaporators.

The question then becomes: Why are there so many droids and other automated intelligences out there without Basic language packs?


Production wise: There’s no point in showing C-3PO speaking Binary. In fact, it is necessary at many points for him to not speak Binary. Without subtitles or a response in Basic, we’d never get the gist of what R2-D2 is saying in some conversations (of course, we can only assume that R2 isn’t saying things like “You gold plated robotic ******”).

  • I have updated the question with a preface right at the beginning: I am not looking for fan theory ideas and rationales. I am looking for verifiable production rationale for the fact C-3PO is not shown speaking Binary bleeps and bloops from someone who worked on the films. – JakeGould Dec 21 '15 at 7:12
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Because there is no point for him to speak binary, either in or out of universe.

In universe logic:

  • We never see (or hear) him screen-time conversing with anyone who doesn’t understand Basic. The only exception is the Millennium Falcon’s computer, when hyperdrive was broken but that happened offscreen.

  • It’s possible that he doesn’t feel that speaking in droidspeak is in keeping with his lofty station of Human-Cyborg relations, a Protocol Droid.

    There are clear parallels in human world: most Baltic state citizens understand Russian and can speak it (having grown up in the U.S.S.R.) but wouldn’t dignify themselves to speak to you in Russian if you tried. I have heard numerous reports of Parisians not dignifying you with English replies even if they speak English. Perfidious Albion must be resisted. As a matter of fact, I personally refuse to speak Russian to anyone who I know is bilingual Russian/English speaker, on principle, despite being fluent in both languages.

Out of universe logic:

  • It’s kind of hard for the viewer to understand what’s going on when two entities converse in an entirely foreign language. But it’s quite easy when we can hear one side of the conversation in English.
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    A more notable parallel in the real and cinematic worlds outside Star Wars would be people's communication with dogs. Compare the film treatment of Lassie with that of binary-speaking droids. Lassie doesn't speak English, but English-speakng characters who are addressing Lassie don't bark. That isn't just a film convention either--people's interactions with actual dogs often follow the same pattern. – supercat Jan 7 '17 at 17:53

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