“Star Wars Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide” Book Review

I use Grammarly for proofreading because only a sith lord does not know that “I would of” is not the replacement for “I would have”.

Can’t get rid of that door-to-door suction droid sales-jawa that refuses to speak English? Do you have trouble getting a spacecraft whenever you try to negotiate with Rodians? Tired of failed negotiations with the Hutt family? Then do I have the book for you. Ben Burtt’s “Star Wars Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide” will teach you the handy words you need to survive the Star Wars universe unscathed, and maybe even get you a sweet haircut from a Wookiee.

Weighing in at 175 pages, this book came out way back in 2001, but I just got my hands on it so it is new to me. Written by the sound-designer of the Star Wars films, Ben Burtt, and illustrated by the masterful hands of Sergio Aragones, this edition is one-part phrasebook, and one-part behind-the-scenes memoir. The first half covers some of the many different languages that the creatures of the Star Wars world speak, including Jawas, Ewoks, Wookiees, Droids, the Hutts, Gungans, and Sand People to name a few. The most common (and often comical) situations are the ones covered here, such as ordering food in Mos Eisley, how to not offend the Ewoks and their religious beliefs, and telling droids to go away when they become too annoying. There is also a good sub-section on Huttese arithmetic, a must-have if you plan on doing business with Jabba or any of his family members (especially since their eight fingers mean a bit less than our humanoid ten fingers).

The latter half of the book is the story of Ben Burtt, who designed the sounds and languages that all of these aliens communicate with. Burtt spent much time in George Lucas’ basement doing the sound design for the original trilogy, as well as other Lucas movies and the prequels. His stories about how he thought of the innovative sounds for the bizarre things that breathe and (usually) walk around are very interesting and give a lot of insight on an often overlooked part of Star Wars. The sounds are not just random, but have a reason and meaning behind them, and were designed to sound legitimate – as much as possible for extraterrestrials – everything from “Utinni!” to the many sounds that Jabba the Hutt lurched out of his slimy mouth. Sound design is part of what made the Star Wars movies so enthralling, since your eyes are glued to the screen but your ears helped you believe you were part of the world.

You can order Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide: Beeps, Bleats, Boskas, and Other Common Intergalactic Verbiage on Amazon.com for around $8, and is a good price for a cute little book good for any level of Star Wars fan. On one hand, it’s a nifty novelty gift with amusing cartoons that should entertain more light-hearted fans, while the section on the making of the movie will attract the more hardcore fans with the backstage insight on a very interesting part of creating the Star Wars universe. Overall, a very fun book that is worth checking out!

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