Star Wars culture news: this well-known alien speaks a language that actually exists
Published on 09/14/2023 at 08:55
Star Wars is a cinematic saga that is full of little details here and there and even today, it is possible to learn anecdotes about the first films in the franchise. Take the character Nien Nunb for example, from Episode VI, for example…
Haya good hour
The Star Wars universe is ultra-vast and teeming with sometimes very juicy anecdotes: between films, series, comics and other video games, it’s difficult to find your way around. However, here, it is Episode VI Return of the Jedi that interests us and more particularly the character of Nien Nunb.
You certainly remember him: he was Lando Calrissian’s co-pilot aboard the Millennium Falcon, present during the legendary clash between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire’s Death Star. An alien with a recognizable physique, coming from the planet Sullust and with an incomprehensible language.
Incomprehensible, really? Not for everybody ! In reality, imagine that Nien Nunb speaks a completely earthly dialect, which actually originates from… Africa: “haya”.
= “Don’t cry, you’re in there haha”
How is it possible for a Star Wars character to speak a Kenyan dialect? To understand this, let’s take a look at the words of sound engineer Ben Burtt, the man behind the sounds of Star Wars lightsabers and blasters.
Billy Dee Williams’ co-pilot’s voice was recorded by a young man who was a foreign exchange student from Kenya and who spoke Haya, one of that country’s indigenous languages
He arrived and we explained to him what we wanted. I wrote a few lines of dialogue in English that fit the context of the story and he translated them into his native language.
And there you have it, it’s that simple. Moreover, this linguistic surprise even charmed those who could understand Haya throughout the world:
We did a recording session with him and his voice was dubbed for the co-pilot. Of course, in most of the world, no one understands this language. But when this film played in Kenya, people suddenly understood their own language in Star Wars and were very enthusiastic.
Fortunately, the lines of dialogue he said were appropriate and fit the story, and it was all the more meaningful to people who could understand him.
And if you were wondering what Nien Nunb said, “Atiriri, inyuothe muri hari ukai haha” at one point in the film for example, it simply translates to “Can you all come?” That’s it, it’s said.
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