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After writing an answer for this question Does the galactic civilisation in Star Wars have a policy towards primitive races? it was brought to my attention that it is possible the Ewoks were known about prior to the Imperial Base being installed on Endor because C3PO can speak to them.

C3PO has said many times he is "fluent in more than six million forms of communication". He even says it when Luke questions him about it.

Was C3PO programmed with knowledge of the language or was he able to figure it out by cross reference with some of the 6,000,000 forms of communications?

  • When young Anakin was inventing and programming "Threepio" to know every language of the galaxy, he made sure to include ancient potential dialects he thought might be possible to encounter based on his own extrapolations of every possible combination of sounds and thoughts. He also felt most humans would feel more at ease with a droid that had a British accent. – jhonny Apr 9 '16 at 17:26
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    @jhonny "He also felt most humans would feel more at ease with a droid that had a British accent." Makes sense to me. – JAB Nov 14 '16 at 19:30
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C-3PO learnt the Ewok language through observation.

A few points from Legends have to be made to come to this conclusion:

  • The 3PO-series protocol droids are equipped with a TranLang III communications module. It comes with up to six million galactic languages - common and obscure, organic and inorganic - at purchase. It also possessed phonetic pattern analysers that provides the capability to learn and translate new languages not in its existing database.
  • The Forest Moon of Endor was known to exist by the galactic community as early as 3645 BBY. Due to its proximity to the Unknown Regions and local cosmic anomalies, it bore witness to an abnormal number of starship crashes over the centuries. Many animal species were introduced to the planet by such means. As a result of its extremely rich, unique and diverse biosphere, the moon was declared a nature reserve by the Galactic Republic, hence the nickname Sanctuary Moon.
  • Besides the dominant Ewoks, Endor was also home to four other similarly primitive sentient species. One of these is the plains-dwelling Yuzzum. The Yuzzum language is closely associated with the Ewok language, and sounds musical in nature. For this reason, Yuzzums are frequently exported as pets despite their sentient status. A Yuzzum was present at Jabba's court, and Yuzzums are also present in colonies across the galaxy despite their primitive hunter-gatherer technology.
  • Many Ewoks know the Yuzzum language. C-3PO first communicated with the Ewoks using the Yuzzum language, and gradually pieced together enough to learn the Ewok language sufficiently to be conversational.

As such, the likely sequence of events is:

  • C-3PO knows the Yuzzum language and has some knowledge of their origins.
  • Despite having a communication problem, he decided to give the Yuzzum language a try since this is their home planet after all.
  • As luck would have it, many Ewoks understand the Yuzzum language, so things worked out.
  • As the Ewok and Yuzzum languages are very closely related, it's not difficult for C-3PO to eventually learn the Ewok language proper and add it to his database.

This is scraped together from various Wookiepedia articles. You can read up there to see where it's sourced from.

'TranLang III communications module', wikia.com

'Endor', wikia.com

'Ewokese', wikia.com

'Yuzzum', wikia.com

'Yuzzum (language)', wikia.com

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    "A Yuzzum was present at Jabba's court," Don't remind us... – WorseDoughnut Apr 7 '16 at 18:21
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    Wait - they can store "up to six million galactic languages"? So is C3PO lying when he claims to know "more than six million forms of communication"? – MartianInvader Apr 7 '16 at 20:09
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    @MartianInvader 6M is a limit to the TranLang III communications module. So it depends on how may additional languages C3PO learned during the course of his lifetime, and in what memory-store they are kept in. Also, the size of the language could affect the storage capacity. So, no, he wasn't lying in the political sense of the word. – Signal15 Apr 7 '16 at 21:16
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    @Signal15: or in other words, what he said was true, from a certain point of view – user13267 Apr 8 '16 at 8:14
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    @RyanJ the asker used the Legends tag, which represents that answers using Legends sources are acceptable. – thegreatjedi Apr 8 '16 at 16:03
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Based on what 3PO tells Han, it sounds like he doesn't explicitly know the Ewok language, and that he's extrapolating based on what he does know. He notes that they're using a "primitive dialect" and that he's not 100% sure of what he's saying to them.

HAN
What are you telling them?

THREEPIO
Hello, I think... I could be mistaken. They're using a very primitive dialect. But I do believe they think I am some sort of god.

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    I think that C3P0 did mean that Ewoks were a primitive, isolated tribe that had relatives whose language was better known across the galaxy. – Ginasius Apr 7 '16 at 16:54
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    This is probably akin to how ancient languages like proto indo european can be reconstructed from modern descendants. – 16807 Apr 7 '16 at 20:45
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    @16807 If thegreatjedi’s answer is true, then pretty much yes, apart from the fact that PIE is pieced together on the basis of extinct languages we only have limited knowledge of, whereas C3PO was able to use living language he had full knowledge of. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 7 '16 at 23:53

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