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In The Phantom Menace after he brings the Naboo and the Gungans together, we see Boss Nass immediately make Jar Jar a "Bombad General".

NASS: Yousa doen grand. Jar Jar bringen usen and da Naboo together. So, wesa make you Bombad General.

JAR JAR: General?! Oh no...

If Bombad General is roughly equivalent in stature and responsibilities to a more traditional General, why would Boss Nass give someone with (seemingly) no prior military experience and a history of being so "clumsy" that he was banished this important role?

It doesn't seem to be a merely honorary rank, since we see Jar Jar leading at least a portion (if not the entirety, it's unclear in the film) of the Gungan army at the Great Grass Plains against the droid army during the Battle of Naboo.

The rank of General has always been given out like candy in the Star Wars universe (Lando in particular seems to gain the rank very quickly, as do literally all the Jedi Knights after the formation of the Republic Army), but this seems egregious even by Star Wars standards, leading to the question, is Bombad General perhaps a much lower rank than the presence of the term "General" would lead us to believe?

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Yes, Bombad General is a rank that is equivalent to the rank of General in other militaries. Jar Jar holds superiority to his fellow Gungan soldiers and is supposedly leading them to victory.

Since no-one's explained his duties and since the other generals think he's a shmuck, he's just picking it up as he goes along.

Jar Jar Binks rode with them at the head of his new command, wondering what it was he was supposed to do. Mostly, he believed, he was supposed to stay out of the way. Certainly the other generals and even his own subordinate officers had made it clear that this was what they preferred. Boss Nass might think it clever to make him a general in the Gungan army, but the career officers found it less amusing. General Ceel, who was commander in-chief, grunted sourly at Jar Jar, on being informed of his new position, and told him to set a good example for his people and die well.

Phantom Menace: Official Novelisation

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    Fair enough, I guess it's pretty clear in the novelisation, so I'll accept this one. It would be interesting to theorize as to why Boss Nass would make him a general, putting countless Gungan lives at risk. That passage from the novelasition makes it seem like he did it as something of a joke for his own "amusement", which is a strange move for the leader of a species with a well documented proud military tradition. Though I guess theorizing about Nass' intentions is probably out of scope for this question. – airshanemode Jul 14 at 9:28
  • Boss Nass making Jar Jar a general was a political act to cement the alliance between the Gunguns and the Naboo since Jar Jar spent so much time with Queen Amidala, and not based on Jar Jar's military skills (or lack thereof). He flat out says it as already quoted in the question: "NASS: Yousa doen grand. Jar Jar bringen usen and da Naboo together. So, wesa make you Bombad General." – Kyle Jul 15 at 3:19
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Possibly interesting fact: The German dub translated the rank as "superheftig General", interpreting the "Bombad" as something like "bombastic", although the German adjective used is a made up word translating back to "super hefty".

Back to the actual English naming: Although I can't back it up, I think this is really just a "gunganized" version of "Combat General". How high the actual rank is in comparison is probably impossible to tell, but also considering Jar Jar's reaction just using "General", I think it's safe to believe that it essentially just means "General of the troops" or "military General".

Also considering I don't really remember any Jedi using the term "General" in the Clone Wars series (haven't seen all episodes), I always had the interpretation it's just some kind of honorific used by the clones.

  • Very interesting regarding the German dub. It would be interesting to know if the same translation is used for the various other places we see the term "bombad" used in the Gungan dialect of Galactic Basic throughout the Phantom Menace, such as: JAR JAR : "Yousa guys bombad!" (after the Jedi defeat some droids) NASS: "...Yousa all bombad. Yousa all die'n, mesa tink" (to Amidala) JAR JAR: "Dissa bad, berry bombad." (after being overrun by droids on the Great Grass Plains) Assuming dubs in non-English languages are canon, this might give some insight into the meaning of bombad here. – airshanemode Jul 14 at 8:04
  • Translation questions aside, is the theory that the rank is roughly equivalent to a standard "General" believable in-universe, given that the Gungans have a large standing army (with already trained and experienced Generals in place) and Jar Jar has seemingly no military experience and is known for his clumsiness? – airshanemode Jul 14 at 8:05
  • @airshanemode Can't check, but as far as I remember the translation isn't consistent, so the idea of it meaning "combat" or "bombard" in one context, while meaning something else in another is still possible. – Mario Jul 15 at 6:07
  • possibly relevant when interpreting translations, from Wookieepedia: "In translations into non-English languages, Basic is assumed to be English but translated to the other language." Assuming this is correct (I can't seem to track down the primary source), and assuming I'm reading it correctly, we may not be able to glean that much information from translations, since they're out-of-universe translations. Hard to say for sure though. – airshanemode Jul 15 at 6:12
  • @airshanemode As for canon translations... Tricky... The quality is all over the place, ranging from perfect to "wtf were they thinking?." For example, in episode 2 when Yoda announces the begin of the Clone Wars, he says "begonnen der Angriff der Klonkrieger hat" ("begun the attack/assault if the clone warriors has"), which lines up with the German subtitle of the movie, but it's inconsistent with episode 4, where it was called "Klonkriege" ("Clone Wars") before. – Mario Jul 15 at 6:18
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Boss Nass's dialogue in the script is all given phonetically. The line where he promotes Jar Jar Binks is:

So, wesa maken yousa Bombad General.

The transcriptions found online (and in the original question here) often regularize the spelling to various extents. This tends to obscure the fact that the written line is heavy with Nass's peculiar accent.

The significance of this is that a natural understanding of Nass's line is that he is promoting Jar Jar to the rank of Bombard General. Given that Nass is voiced by Brian Blessed, who speaks with a British, non-rhotic accent, "bombad" is reasonable phonetic spelling of "bombard" in this accent. Jar Jar begins the battle situated among a unit of gungans who throw energized spheres in battle—i.e., bombardiers.

A title like "bombard general" would fit with historical practice in a number of militaries, where the type of unit a full general (or lieutenant general) commands it part of their official rank. This is best known in the German military, which historically used ranks such as General der Artillerie (general of the artillery) and General der Infanterie (with the Nazi Wehrmacht adding other types such as General der Panzertruppen, General der Gebirgstruppen, and General der Fallschirmtruppen); the Bulgarian army also used a similar system.

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    Bombad appears to be a superlative. Jar-Jar says "Yousa guys bombad" after the Jedi destroy the battle droids escorting the Queen. – Nolimon Jul 14 at 21:32
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    Bombad does seem to be more than a corruption of bombard. It looks to be a fairly flexible adjective spanning a range of meanings from "amazing"/"hardcore" to "screwed" (possibly like "sick" in English slang, which could be used to mean cool, disgusting, or literally ill). We see it not only in the usage that @Nolimon mentions but also in various other places from both Jar Jar and Nass. For example, NASS: "...Yousa all bombad. Yousa all die'n, mesa tink" (to Amidala) JAR JAR: "Dissa bad, berry bombad." (after being overrun by droids on the Great Grass Plains). – airshanemode Jul 15 at 4:04

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