Some information is resurfacing about the creation of Tusken Raider Sign Language for The Mandalorian.
After the premiere of The Mandalorian season 2, which featured the Tusken Raiders, a tweet went viral that pointed out a deaf actor was hired to help create a special Tusken sign language. Since then, the full interview behind the information has resurfaced, and it’s an amazing story to see the care that went into the creation of this new language.
Originally, in January 2020, an interview with deaf actor Troy Kotsur was shared on The Daily Moth. In the interview, Kotsur described how he’s been a life-long Star Wars fan since he was a child, and of course, it was a dream come true for him to work on the series.
With the interview coming out in January of this year, it should be noted that his work was, in fact, first referenced in season 1 — long before Chapter 9’s episode with the Tuskens dropped. The first major appearance of his Tusken Sign Language was in Chapter 5 when the Mandalorian first went to Tatooine and encountered the Raiders.
According to The Daily Moth, someone had suggested that a deaf person take the lead in developing a new kind of sign language for the Tusken Raiders to use. And thus, Kotsur was brought on as a consultant to help develop TSL, and he also got a role as a Tusken in the series. Here’s what he had to say about the creation of the language:
"I did research on the culture and environment of Tusken Raiders. I researched on the desert called “sand people.” That is what Luke Skywalker calls them “sand people.” Anyway, my goal was to avoid ASL. I made sure it became Tusken Sign Language based on their culture and environment."
In his creation of the language, for example, the sign for “Mandalorian” is “based on the helmet and the ‘M’ handshape.” Surely, for any Star Wars fan, it would be exciting to figure out what other signs were created for this language and what they mean. There hasn’t been any official course or guidebook, but SYFY WIRE and GamesRadar have pointed out that the fans have already taken up the assignment of decoding the new language.
A Facebook group has been created, named Tusken Raider Sign Language, that aims to translate the language. The group is new, having just been created on Nov. 1. And so there is much work to be done. But the group’s creator, David Wellbeloved, spoke to SYFY WIRE to express his hopes for the group, saying:
"I’m also a father to two deaf children and work with a young deaf boy in a local school. Seeing The Mandalorian series — and the Tusken Raiders, using a form of sign language in particular — really warmed my heart and excited my two children immensely! This inspired me to setup the Facebook group … Lots of fans around the world have learnt Aurebesh (Star Wars) and Klingon (Star Trek), and I thought it would be amazing to look into developing a signed sci-fi language. Star Wars is so inclusive anyway, so let’s take it up another level."
This, if anything, is just another great sign (no pun intended) of what Star Wars fans can do together when they’re at their best. Inclusivity becomes the priority, and everyone can have fun coming together over a shared interest. Best of luck to the Tusken Raider Sign Language group, and we hope to learn more about their discoveries as time goes on.
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