“Language is an organism. The entity of language is born, germinates, hybrids itself, and through the earnestness of social and political forces, languages can even die.” ―Arner Figgis, Chief Linguist at the University of Be’Nal on Issor
There were a number of languages throughout the galaxy, with Galactic Basic being the most common. It was not uncommon for beings to speak at least two languages in addition to their native tongue, particularly among those involved in space-faring occupations and those who had attended military or educational academies.
“The ability to speak does not make you intelligent.” ―Qui-Gon Jinn
Galactic Basic, also known as Galactic Standard, was a constructed language, inspired largely by the languages of the various founding species of the Galactic Republic: the Humans, the Duros, and the Bothans. It was the lingua franca of the galaxy, and almost all Humans spoke it instead of their historical language.
Some aliens had difficulty speaking Basic, often due to the structure of their vocal cords or analogous organ.
Binary, or Droidspeak, was a language of beeps, trills, and whistles spoken primarily by astromech droids such as R2-D2. It was also spoken by other models of droid. Organic beings who spent a lot of time with droids could often pick up a basic understanding as well.
Bocce was an artificial language used by spacers. It was composed of elements from several languages.
Cheunh was the language of the Chiss species, a dominant force in the Unknown Regions.
Dosh was the language of the Trandoshan species, natives of the planet Trandosha.
The Duros language remained a popular language among space travelers due to the abundance of Duro spacefarers, despite the predominance of Basic.
The Hapan language was spoken by residents of the Hapes Cluster.
High Galactic was a prestige language, most commonly used among Imperial courtiers.
Huttese, the language of the Hutts, was popular among criminals, especially in the (considerable) sections of the galaxy where the Hutt criminal network was powerful.
Mando’a was the traditional language spoken by Mandalorians.
Olys Corellisi (‘Old Corellian’) was the language spoken by the original settlers of Corellia, becoming extinct around 4,000 BBY.
The native tongue of the Rodians, Rodese, was popular due to the large number of spacefaring Rodians.
Shyriiwook was the main language of the Wookiees. It was considered to be the most emotive of Wookiee tongues, as opposed to the technical Thykarann or tribal Xaczik dialects. It could be understood by those who spoke Basic, however it was nearly impossible for non-Wookiees to pronounce.
The Sith language is the native language of the people of Ziost and Korriban. Later it was the language of the Sith.
The language of the extragalactic Yuuzhan Vong invaders was guttural and grammatically different from Basic, but otherwise straightforward.
Droids and computers
Droids and computers used either the natural languages that their masters used, usually Basic, or special machine languages. Protocol droids such as C-3PO were “fluent in over six million forms of communication” and were often employed as translators. Astromech droids such as R2-D2 were able to understand commands in Basic and perhaps other languages, but could only communicate through an information-dense language of beeps and whistles; although devices existed that could translate this language into Basic (such as the display in an X-wing cockpit that allowed the ship’s astromech and pilot to commmunicate). Simpler droids communicated only through sounds indicating affirmative/negative, or other simple replies.