But it does make me wonder if Lucasfilm actually has some psuedo-vocabulary they use for simple Huttese when writing alien dialogue for the actors/voice actors to speak, and the variations are just due actors pronouncing words slightly different or loose translations.
I went and dug out my copy of the Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide. Here’s Ben Burtt on the creation of languages in Star Wars:
Ben Burtt said:
Returning to the early development of alien speech in Star Wars, I listened to recordings of many foreign languages and found inspiration among many that were entertaining and exotic to my ears. I auditioned language sample tapes from university linguistics departments. I combed through recorded language lessons and even monitored shortwave transmissions from around the world just to get ideas. I especially enjoyed listening to shortwave, because the aberrations and distortions of speech produced by sidebanding and mistuned transmissions gave me many ideas for electronic processing. These I exploited along the way.
Part of my research was to identify interesting real languages to use as a basis for alien ones. The advantage of using a real language is that it possesses built-in credibility. A real language has all the style, consistency, and unique character that only centuries of cultural evolution can bring. I found that if I relied on my familiarity with English, my imagined “alien” language would just be a reworking of the all-too-familiar phonemes of everyday general American speech. I had to break those boundaries, to search for language sounds that were uncommon and even unpronounceable by most of the general audience.
To this end I searched and found several fascinating possibilities. First came Huttese, which I needed for Greedo when he confronted Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina. I heard some recordings of Quechua, an ancient native language of Peru. Some phrases had a comic rhyming. It had a musical intonation. There were smacking sounds and clicks not a common part of speech or of any of the familiar Romance languages. I collected recordings of Quechua and searched for someone who could speak the language.
Out of this research came a linguistics graduate student from Berkeley. His name was Larry Ward, and he already could speak eleven languages, though Quechua wasn’t one of them. But Larry was gifted with the talent of mimicking any language. He could listen to Quechua, and then reproduce a stream of sound that would convince you he was speaking fluently. In fact, it was all double-talk, and this was a major discovery for me.
I got together with Larry and reviewed all I had in Quechua. We wrote down the sounds phonetically, invented and derived new sounds based on what we liked, and did some free-form recording sessions. From this activity, Huttese emerged. Once a collection of favorite words and phrases existed, I sat down and carefully studied Greedo’s mouth movements in the cut scene. I wrote out phrases and recorded with Larry specific sentences that were timed to Greedo’s movement. Having Greedo speak a humanlike language wasn’t actually George Lucas’s first choice. At first Greedo was supposed to speak with an electronic, insectlike sound. Then for a while, he spoke in a staccato “oink-oink” language that was created by George and me “oinking” simultaneously into the microphone. The fake Quechua came late in the process.
After recording a good take of each line and editing it to fit Greedo’s snout movement, I made two identical loops of each line. I would play the two copies back in sync, then drag my thumb on the reel of one copy, knocking it a few milliseconds out of sync. The blend of the two slightly out-of-sync recordings produced a phasing effect, or “comb filtering,” as it is also called. It gave the sound a tubular quality that was consistent with a sound generated in Greedo’s long snout. The result was immediately a hit with George and everybody on the crew. Pretty soon everyone was greeting each other in the editing room with the phrase “Koona t’chuta, Solo?” At that point I knew we had a success with Huttese, but I never realized it was going to be taken so much further in the subsequent films.
From there he’s built pretty hefty vocabularies for the various Star Wars languages which are cataloged in the book. Highly recommend it if you’re curious!