So a question popped up on my sidebar asking about Binary, which is apparently the name given to robot speech in Star Wars (specifically, the very non-binary language used by R2-D2 and similar astromechs). The name was clearly created by someone who had no clue about computers, communication protocols, etc., and I wouldn't put it past the film industry to use such a ridiculously inaccurate term just because it's vaguely computer-sounding. But I don't remember ever hearing of The Binary Language in any canon source. I know there are references to binary languages, but all the ones I can find are references to specific droids and their specific languages which aren't actually heard on-screen.

Is there any canon source that refers to a non-binary droid language as Binary?

  • 2
    Names don't have to make sense, especially since they can become detached from their origins as history moves along and things change. For example, we call a particular people in Europe "German" which comes from the word old English word meaning "genuine", which doesn't seem to have much to do with anything; furthermore these people don't even use this name for themselves, they call themselves Deutsche. So maybe the original robot language was purely binary, and then evolved into something with more sounds so that humans could understand, or for other reasons.
    – zipquincy
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 20:22
  • 7
    So you're not talking about the "binary language of moisture vaporators" (Owen Lars) that is similar to the language used by "binary load lifters" (C-3PO) as mentioned in Star Wars (Episode IV a New Hope for you younger folks - grumpy old people like me stick with the original name)? Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 20:32
  • 1
    zipquincy: In-universe, that's a fair point. Out-of-universe, that devolution of the term is happening. But my question is really about whether the term is canonical, or fan-made. @Todd Wilcox: That is a reference to a pair of "binary" languages, but there's no indication they're not actually binary, or that they're remotely similar to R2-D2's language, or that "binary" is a name rather than an adjective. I'm guessing some less-than-tech-savvy fans made the leap from two specific binary languages to "all droids speak Binary", but I could be wrong.
    – MichaelS
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 20:38
  • You might want to ask if there are any mentions of droids speaking binary (other than those mentioned in ANH) prior to 2014
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 0:56

1 Answer 1


Per the Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know factbook

"R2-D2 talks in binary, a language of beeps and whistles"

enter image description here

It's also mentioned in the junior novelisations for Force Awakens and the prequel novel along with one of the books in the Star Wars: Rebels series.

The lead TIE cracked, then flared, then just wasn’t there anymore. He broke to his right, yanking back on the stick. BB-8 sang a burst of binary, and then Poe was behind a second TIE.

Before the Awakening


She grabbed her staff from the walker, then ran out into the desert, heading toward the sound. It repeated, the same tone at a precise rate. Binary, from the sound of it. The language of droids.

Force Awakens: Junior novelisation


Ezra spun around. Kanan stood in the doorway with Hera and Chopper behind him. The droid snickered in binary. Ezra frowned. He should’ve known better than to wander around with the droid in the ship. Chopper had ratted him out. And Kanan did not seem happy to find him in his quarters.

Star Wars: Rebels - The Rebellion Begins

  • 2
    I'd be interested to see if there are any older references. My hunch is still that the name was fan-created, rather than official, but these references have at least incorporated the fan-fic into canon if they weren't canon to begin with.
    – MichaelS
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 20:57
  • @MichaelS - There are no references in the original trilogy novelisation or the prequel trilogy novelisations.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 21:00
  • "binary, a language of beeps and whistles" -- the cringe is real. Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 12:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.