Yoda Grammar

Is Yoda speaking "real" English? In this episode, we dissect the subject-verb-object order.

Mignon Fogarty,
April 3, 2015
Episode #105

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Language and Stereotypes

Sokolowski adds that the Star Wars universe uses English as a common language of trade, so there are many characters for whom English is not the native language and we hear many accents and odd syntactical structures from them. In that sense, Yoda is like any immigrant in the real world who is able to converse in English, but who comes up with sentences that sound strange to our ears. Sokolowski says, "The fact that some of these syntactical structures do not correspond with any that we know seems designed ... to underscore the very alien nature of Yoda’s character ... It makes us pay close attention to the speaker, just as we do with those who are learning English."

He also finds that "The echo of old Hollywood stereotypes is evident in the depictions of evil and nobility with the British accents, and wisdom coming from a severely laconic and utterly foreign character." He also notes that characters who represent the old guard, such as the Imperial characters, speak with an elevated British accent, whereas the scrappy heroes speak with American accents. He says that "This makes for a satisfying internal logic and gives the impression of history and culture that is comfortable to many viewers who have seen Romans speak with British accents and martial arts masters speak with so few words that actual sentence structure is irrelevant."

Next: How Yoda's Language Changed in Later Movies


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