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In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi are brought to Otoh Gunga to meet the Gungans. Fortunately for them, all of them speak Galactic Basic (although with their distinctive speech patterns).

Given that the Gungans "no like da Naboo! Un dey no like uss-ens", and apparently don't have contact with each other, how did the Gungans learn to speak Galactic Basic (and adopt it as their sole language)? Were they on better terms with the Naboo in the past?

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    Do you have any sources for the idea that Galactic Basic is their sole language? Just because it's the only language we see them speak (particularly when they're speaking to outsiders like the Jedi) doesn't mean it's the only language they ever use. – Steve-O Jul 9 '18 at 13:23
  • So the Naboo and the Gungans have technology that would take many thousands of years to invent. If they didn't get all of their technology from visitors from other planets they must have been civilized for many thousands of years and thus would have found each other thousands of years ago. Naturally there would be occasional contact and naturally the Gungan leaders would learn galactic standard so they wouldn't need to let the Naboo talk to outsiders for them. – M. A. Golding Jul 9 '18 at 17:08
  • @Steve-O They speak it when alone (e.g. Boss Nass promoting Jar-Jar before the battle), and I have never seen any evidence that they could speak additional languages. – Thunderforge Jul 9 '18 at 17:31
  • @M.A.Golding Since comments aren't the right place for answers, are you willing to convert that to an answer? – Thunderforge Jul 9 '18 at 17:32
  • Languages converge over time through contact. We don't need more explanation. If anything, the strange pidgin they speak is direct evidence of this. – ThePopMachine Jul 13 '18 at 15:31
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The Phantom Menace Visual Dictionary offers a few bits of information that are relevant

  • The Gungans do have their own language, but only a few Gungans speak it. It follows that Gungans learn Basic at whatever passes for school in their society.

    Jar Jar speaks a pidgin dialect of Galactic Basic. Few Gungans speak the pure Gungan language.

  • The Gungans are in regular contact with outsiders including the Naboo

    Gungans trade with the Naboo for certain items of technology

  • There would appear to have been periods in recent history where contact levels were greater. Boss Nass in particular seems keen to lessen those links, maintaining this attitude until Padmé comes to speak to him.

    A fair but stubborn ruler. Boss Nass resents the arrogance of the Naboo. who regard Gungans as primitive simply because they do not embrace a technological lifestyle. He finds it best all round to minimize contact with humans.

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The conclusion that the Gungans do not have any contact with the land-dwelling Naboo does not appear to be justified, so there are no reasons to believe that the Gungans would not have had an opportunity to learn Galactic Basic. While the two groups do not appear to be cooperating all that much at the beginning of The Phantom Menace, they are clearly aware of each other, as Boss Nass's quote indicates. The Gungans have a "sacred place" (as Jar-Jar Binks puts it) on land, and Jar-Jar, having been exiled, also has taken to the land.

More specifically, Obi-Wan Kenobi points out to Nass that, "You and the Naboo form a symbiot circle. What happens to one of you will affect the other." That only makes sense if there are direct (and significant) economic, political, or social interactions between the two peoples. While Boss Nass seems to believe that the Gungans can simply hide out from the Trade Federation armies, the Jedi clearly think this is unrealistic.

  • "the Jedi clearly think this is unrealistic." I'm not so sure it's that Obi-Wan thinks it's not possible for them - although it might not be - but more that they really needed the help at that point. – Cubic Jul 9 '18 at 10:31
  • @Cubic - surely you're not suggesting that Obi Wan would lie, are you? – Jules Jul 12 '18 at 13:52

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