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I need to settle this question in order to adjudicate acceptance of an answer to another question.

So, taking as a given that Galactic Basic has all these cultural influences from hundreds of alien languages, and that it is supposed to have evolved in The Galaxy, and so on and so forth... Does that language just happen to sound dramatically like 20th Century American English (broadly speaking), in the same spirit as most Star Wars characters just happen to look dramatically like humans?

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    if you grew up in say....<pick a random country - Italy for example>...and had only seen 'translated' versions of the films, would you still have the same question? All the characters would be speaking 20th Century Italian
    – NKCampbell
    Feb 13 '20 at 1:08
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    @NKCampbell Good point. Though one could assume the Italian dub is not the original movie. I think the OP's question could be rephrased to "are the movies supposed to be dubbed from a fictional Galactic Basic, or is that what Galactic Basic actually sounds like". (The real answer is of course "this a space opera and you aren't supposed to think very hard about it" :P)
    – Andres F.
    Feb 13 '20 at 1:13
  • See Translation Convention Feb 13 '20 at 3:08
  • Both Wikipedia and Wookieepedia say that GalBasic is theoretically always dubbed into the audience's language. So it's not English, it's just translated into English for English theatrical release. But I don't have access to any of their original sources, so I can't post a proper answer.
    – DavidW
    Feb 13 '20 at 4:36
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    The Force translates the Galactic Basic in your head.
    – I' Robot
    Feb 13 '20 at 6:23
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You are talking about a fictional language in a franchise which has gone through many hands, from canon to Legends. Back to basic:

  • If you consider that things happened "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away" it cannot be English as we know it unless you explain it with convergent evolution of languages.
  • The use of a fictional alphabet is a strong hint as well. There are many examples of different languages using the same alphabet, but few examples of the same language using different alphabets.
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  • +1 Though, confusing things even more, when aliens speak a clearly alien language such as Huttese, it's not translated to English. So why is Galactic Basic, unless it actually sounds like English? (The out of universe answer is, of course, because we want to understand the human characters better).
    – Andres F.
    Feb 13 '20 at 15:10
  • @AndresF. For the same reason that Westron is rendered as English, but not Sindarin, Quenya, Khuzdul, etc. Galactic Basic is the lingua franca of the faraway galaxy, so it’s rendered as the corresponding lingua franca of the audience. Other languages are foreign to the protagonists who speak the lingua franca, so they’re rendered as foreign (in both cases as themselves, rather than, say, having Jabba the Hutt speak Malayalam or Chewie speak Greenlandic). Feb 15 '20 at 15:45
  • There actually was an old science fiction story where convergent evolution of languages was the explanation for English-speaking space aliens.
    – user14111
    Feb 15 '20 at 21:49
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    "We are actually speaking Rigellian. By an astonishing coincidence, both our languages are exactly the same."
    – Exal
    Feb 15 '20 at 22:27
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I think the following perspective is best: Don't think of the films as actual depictions of 'real' historical events; think of them rather as fictionalizations based on 'real' events, in which the actors speak the language of their audience. A good example is the film '300' - obviously the REAL Spartans must have spoken ancient Greek, but the actors in that film spoke English. Think of Star Wars as being like that.

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  • This is of course the real out-of-universe answer. But because this is a fictional language, there is more leeway than in the case of the Spartans. Is there a definitive reference that Galactic Basic does not sound like English?
    – Andres F.
    Feb 13 '20 at 15:12
  • Another analogy you could have used, this time with a fictional language, is The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The hobbits speaking in Common Speak or Westron (itself an English word! Westron isn't called Westron in Westron-language) sound as if they were speaking in English, but the narrator in metacommentary/apendixes mentions he actually translated Westron to English for the benefit of English-speaking readers. Something similar could be the case for Star Wars and Galactic Basic.
    – Andres F.
    Feb 13 '20 at 15:14

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