R2D2 (and several similar Astromech droids) are generally not equipped with a vocabulator, and instead communicate using a well-established series of electronic beeps, "bloops," buzzes, chirps, whines, and whistles known as Binary.

Obviously, Binary is a homonym of the generally recognized term "binary" and is very different in that it is a fully expressive language rather than a numeric representation system. As such, simple 1's and 0's are insufficient to represent Binary.

I've scoured the canon in search of Binary, however most books and comics use the onomatopoeic representations of "beep", "blop", "blip", et cetera, relying on other characters for interpretation. Clearly, simple English words are insufficient to express tonality, duration, and other aspects (especially emotional) of Binary. It seems to me that one could develop a compact representation of Binary, not dissimilar to Morse code.

If there's not a canonical textual representation of Binary, what would be an efficient human-readable representation of Binary?

  • Just because our technology uses a binary system does not mean that their designs use binary. They may work on analog or use -5 Volts as a -1, 0 Volts as 0, and +5 Volts as a +1, for example. So they may not even use binary. Also, if you've ever listened to computers communicating in binary, the beeps and bloops are NOT what that sounds like. – Tango Dec 30 '11 at 3:41
  • @TangoOversway: Since when has anyone "listened to computers communicating in binary"? And in any case, this is not an issue of communication in binary, but communication in (Capital-B) Binary. – Williham Totland Dec 30 '11 at 8:50
  • @WillihamTotland: I have, a number of times, and so has anyone old enough to remember using dial-up on the Internet and had a switch on so they could monitor the connection through a speaker. If you hear a fax transmission, it's the same thing. – Tango Dec 30 '11 at 13:50
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    @TangoOversway: Still not binary, tho'. It's a completely analog audio signal, including standard issue dialing tones and whatnot. – Williham Totland Dec 30 '11 at 13:56
  • Dialing tones really aren't in any form of binary. Modems use an analog carrier signal and the binary is the data on the analog signal. If it's a sound signal, it'll be audio. If it's digital, but heard, it essentially has to be imposed over an analog carrier signal. I can't get into the science of it here, but if it can be heard or is audio, it's in analog. If it's digital and audio, then it's imposed over an analog carrier. – Tango Dec 30 '11 at 14:02

The wookiepedia page makes no mention of a textual representation, but refers explicitly to reed whistles used to "speak" the language, so it would appear that Canon does not in fact contain a textual representation, and that Binary in many ways is an exclusively spoken language.

There is some real world basis for languages that are exclusively spoken, such as most ancient languages, and even some relatively modern ones, like pre-medieval Japanese (prior to the introduction of Kanji as part of the language around 500 AD).

If any representation does exist, it is likely either derived from some manner of musical notation local to the Star Wars canon; or a repurposing of Aurebesh letters with added inflection marks.


As such, simple 1's and 0's are insufficient to represent Binary.

Simple 1's and 0's are more than sufficient to represent the full panoply of human language. It isn't compact and elegant as a written language though.

What would be an efficient human-readable representation of Binary?

Can you read music notation =)

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