Inspired by this question and by the novelization of The Force Awakens:

The novelization of The Force Awakens plays up the problems Finn has in understanding Chewbacca's native language of Shyriiwook. Chewie is clearly incapable of speaking English/Basic, but I see no reason why a literate Wookiee who understands English/Basic wouldn't be able to write out what he is trying to say, at least in some situations.

Can Chewbacca read and write?

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    Didn't Chewbacca need to read the ship's display to operate it?
    – user931
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 6:23
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    @SS-3 - It would help, but illiterate people drive and operate machinery. They just learn what the signs and labels mean without actually reading them.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 6:45
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    @WadCheber Can you prove that Yoda can read or write? Anakin? Palpatine? Han? Leia?
    – user931
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 7:12
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    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 11:50
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    @Richard - based on the last 24 hours, that would seem a reasonable basis for an answer. We have answers of pretty much identical substance getting 3-5 upvotes on 2 very recent questions. Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 13:03

2 Answers 2


Almost any technology depicted in the Star Wars universe tends to seem "analogic" instead of "digital".

However, when you repair and work with technical and electronical devices, you need to understand tools readings, just to see if the correct voltages apply to a circuit, or if the temperature of oil is correct, for example.

This suposes already a certain level of literacy, at least being capable of understanding numbers and symbols.

But I think that the key is astronavigation. We don't see exactly what they do in the ship to jump to hyperspace, but it seems from novelizations that several complex calculations have to be made. Surely navigation computers make the hard math, but the pilot need to feed the computer with data info about where are we and where we want to go. This implies to be able to understand a estelar cartography and comprehend at least basic rudiments of estelar navigation. I don't imagine that an illiterate can achieve those tasks.


There's a blog post here, which Ryan Britt suggests that most, if not all citizens in the "galaxy far far away", are in fact completely illiterate due to the available technologies, for example holograms, which store memories, thus eliminating the need for reading or writing.

However as we saw in The Force Awakens, the rebels can read maps. It's not conclusive evidence that they can read, the map was mainly illustrative, however it does prove that they are able to follow technical documents.

Further more in Episode IV, Darth Vader interrogates Leia for the Death Star "plans". If they are anything like blue prints, we'd assume they would contain some sort of technical specifications and dimensions, which requires some literacy skills if not to read, then at least to write, if of course they were written for human eyes, and not some droid language that is converted into Death Stars.

Chewie is able to not only operate, but also repair the Millenium Falcon. In our world, this would assume some sort of literacy skills, however we don't know how Chewie learnt those skills. He could've memorised them visually by learning from holograms, or by watching Han.

The answer is inconclusive, but we can potentially speculate that Chewie can at least read to some level, to be able to repair the ship. Unfortunately there's no clear cut answer, as there's very little information available that discusses anyone's level of education.

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    Or perhaps Chewie learned from trial and error and simple deduction. He seemed to figure out how to put C-3PO back together in Episode V without a manual.
    – Jane S
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 11:37
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    Good point, however we're talking about a space freighter with a very powerful hyperdrive capable of a huge amount of power output. You wouldn't give someone the reigns to a Nuclear Power Plant and say "if anything goes wrong, just trial and error until you get it right". It requires years if not decades of training and studying. I'm not saying that a hyperdrive needs the same amount of care, or that it is that unstable, but it's certainly not something to be toyed about with.
    – John Bell
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 11:45
  • If I were a smuggler with a price on my head, I'd probably make do with what resources I had available :)
    – Jane S
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 11:50
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    Well you're certainly unique. Not many people can empathize with an interstellar smuggler. In fact, I'd hazard a guess that there's between 0 and 2 people on earth that could.
    – John Bell
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 13:58
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    LOL! It's not actually that hard. There are plenty of examples of people through history in desperate situations devising amazingly inventive ways of surviving. If you have someone who is obviously highly intelligent and may have had at least some exposure to these things, then it's quite remarkable what they could do with very little actual formal training when pushed :)
    – Jane S
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 21:58

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