How to identify different English accents with Star Wars

How to identify different English accents with Star Wars

Genre: Fantasy / Sci-Fi; Level B1/B2

(You’ll find a short vocabulary list at the bottom of this article containing the underlined words. If there are any other words you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to ask).

Welcome to my newest blog post about one of the longest running film sagas, Star Wars, the first episode of which came out in 1977. In this blog post you find out how to identify different English accents with Star Wars.

We will look at the following questions: 

  1. What is Star Wars and who are the main characters?
  2. What accents can I identify with Star Wars
  3. Which vocabulary can I learn with common expressions and famous conversations?
  4. Which additional resources can I use to improve my English with Star Wars?

What is Star wars about?

For all of you who haven’t watched Star Wars so far, I will briefly tell you what Star Wars is about and introduce the main characters.

Star Wars is set in a future time in a Galaxy far, far away… it follows the adventures of the ‘Jedi’ fighters (the ‘goodies’) and their rebel supporters struggling against the Galactic Empire forces (the ‘baddies’). 

Main characters

The main characters are:

Yoda
Photo by Jim Tegman on Unsplash
  • Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader. The father of Luke Skywalker. He was a Jedi but turns to the dark side of the force.
  • Luke Skywalker. The son of Darth Vader. He is a Jedi, who always rescues the rebels. Luke falls in love with Leia, only to find out that Leia is his sister.
  • Princess Leia. The twin sister of Luke. She is a rebel princess. In the later episodes of the series, she becomes a General of the rebel forces.
  • Yoda. A little green character, who teaches Luke the force of the Jedi. He is known for saying sentences backwards: “The force I feel in you, Luke.” This should be: “I feel the force in you, Luke.”
  • Han Solo and Chewbacca. Two friends who are never separated. Han is played by Harrison Ford. He is a smuggler but comes to help the rebels with the Millenium Falcon (a type of spaceship, which is apparently the fastest in the galaxy). Chewbacca is a creature, who doesn’t talk, but just roars.
  • C3PO, R2D2 and BB8. Three droids (robots). C3PO and R2D2 are seen together all the time. As R2D2 can only make electronic sounds, C3PO translates into English. BB8 is a droid, which is a ball that rolls around and can only make electronic sounds like R2D2.
  • Rey. Rey features in the last three episodes. She was originally a scavenger left by her parents. She becomes involved in the fight against the First Order (the Empire). 
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi. He trains Anakin to become a Jedi from a young age, but eventually falls out with him because Anakin turns to the dark side. A fight ensues between two and Anakin is burnt.

The Star Wars saga has now concluded after its ninth episode.

Star Wars pin image

What accents can i identify with star wars?

The Star Wars director is American. 

You will hear Brits using a British accent, as well as Brits using an American accent and, of course, Americans using an American accent.

Let us look at each of the main characters and the accent they have and how you can identify which accent it is: 

North American Accent

  • Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader’s actor is originally from Canada. He uses the North American accent. Normally, Canadians use British English vocabulary with a North American accent.
  • Luke Skywalker is played by Mark Hamill who is an American actor. He uses the typical North American accent.
  • Princess (General) Leia was played by Carrie Fisher from the beginning. She was an American actor as well, so she used a typical North American accent as well.
  • Yoda is the smallest of the actors. The voice of this green character was played by an American voice actor Frank Oz. Born in the UK, he is of American nationality so we can hear the North American accent while Yoda speaks.
  • Han Solo is also a native American, so he also uses the native North American accent.

British English Accents

  • Obi-Wan Kenobi: the original Obi-Wan (in episodes 4-6 produced in the 1970s) was played by Scottish actor Alec McGuinness. You can hear how he rolls his ‘r’s, which is typical Scottish accent.
  • In episodes 1-3 (produced in late 1990s and early 2000s) Ewan McGregor (also Obi-Wan Kenobi and a Scottish actor) uses more of a so-called ‘Oxford English’ accent. This is otherwise known as ‘received pronunciation’ and regarded as a standard form of English although there is much debate about this. 
  • The voice of C3PO is played by English actor Anthony Daniels. He has a clear Oxford English accent or ‘received pronunciation’.
  • Rey is also played by an English actor Daisy Ridley. She also uses a clear Oxford English accent or ‘received pronunciation’ as well.

If you would now like to sound more a like a brit, sign up here:

Which vocabulary can I learn with common expressions and famous conversations?

To help you understand the film better and be able to get more out of it in its original English format (and of course to learn new vocabulary), we now look at some famous conversations and quotes, as well as common expressions. 

Famous conversations and quotes

Star Wars would not be Star Wars without some famous conversations and quotes:

  • ‘This is madness! We’re doomed‘. – C3PO (one of the droids) says this while running through a rebel ship. Doomed is another word for being ‘in big trouble’ and is often used as an exaggeration to make a point. It can be used if you haven’t done something you were meant to do. But here, C3PO means that he will die.
  • ‘Commander, tear this ship apart until you’ve found those plans’. – You can usually tear apart a package. But here Darth Vader means ‘go through the whole ship’.
  • ‘That malfunctioning little twerp ‘. – C3PO uses this to talk about R2D2. Malfunctioning describes a device that isn’t working properly. As R2D2 is computer-based, he can malfunction or not work properly. Twerp is a slang word for ‘idiot’. R2D2 is being compared to a person, although he is a computer device. 
  • “Luke, I am your father”. – an iconic sentence Darth Vader says to Luke Skywalker during their fight. This is a correct sentence using the present simple tense. 
  • “For my ally is the force. And a powerful ally it is”. – Yoda during the ‘Return of the Jedi’. As you can see from the second sentence, it is grammatically incorrect. Yoda talks a lot in this way in order to emphasise what is being said. In strictly correct English it should be ‘It is a powerful ally’.

As you can see from these three quotes, there are some words and phrases, which are not commonly used in everyday English. The word ‘twerp’, for

If you would like to read some more famous quotes I can recommend this list from Thoughtcatalog.com

Star Wars-specific vocabulary

There are also Star Wars-specific words and phrases that you should know before you watch the films. Here are just a few:

  • ‘May the force be with you’ – Jedis say this to rebel soldiers before they go off into battle. It is a bit like saying ‘good luck’
  • Cruiser – a type of spaceship. Normally a cruiser can be a ship on which you can go on holiday, or a war-ship.
  • Droid – a robot with some sort of A.I. (artificial intelligence)
  • Jedi – a person who has the ‘force’.
  • The ‘Force’ – this is something, which Jedis, as well as Darth Vader possess. It allows them to move objects with their minds. Yoda explains it by saying that the force surrounds us.
  • Starpilot – pilot of a spaceship.
  • Docking bay – an open area from and to which spaceships can take off and land. 
  • Imperial troopers – soldiers who belong to the Galactic Empire. 

Which additional resources can I use to improve my English with Star Wars?

Besides watching the film, you can also improve your language skills with lots of additional resources around Star Wars. 

The best places to find additional resources are either the British Council website or the BBC Learning English website. Here you will find extra exercises to help you improve your English with Star Wars.

Everyone has their own ways to learn new things in a language. Star Wars helps you to improve your skills in addition to watching the films by:

  1. Writing: Write down new vocabulary or find other Star Wars fans to exchange views in forums.
  2. Reading: If you liked Star Wars and you learn best by reading, I recommend the Star Wars books. On Wikipedia you can find a list with all sort of books connected with Star wars. 
  3.  Speaking: Find friends and act out different scenes from the films. This way you become more confident in your speaking skills.
  4. Listening: Listen to an audiobook. Most books mentioned above are also available as audiobook. 

As you can see there are many different and fun ways to learn English with Star Wars. The Star Wars saga contains a lot that more advanced learners will be able to use. 

If you’d like to find out about other things to watch, then read my previous posts about the best Netflix series.

If you would like to learn how to sound like a Brit, download the guide below

May the force be with you! Comment on what you have learnt from the Star Wars films.

1 thought on “How to identify different English accents with Star Wars”

  1. Maxim Dsouza

    This is a very creative way of teaching English. I’m sure this will get the attention of a lot many fans 🙂

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