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Why So Strangely Yoda Speaks

Any Star Wars fan will recognize an imitation of the Jedi Muppet Yoda even in text because of his peculiar syntax. But is it really so peculiar? There are plenty of examples from history -many from Shakespeare- of the same rearrangement of subject, object, verb, and sentence clauses.

When you bring a later part of the sentence to the beginning, it's called fronting. You can front just a noun or prepositional phrase — "Jackets we hang here, ties we pile over there"; "The life of Riley, you live"; "For $5 you came here?" — or you can front a verb with it as well, as long as you keep a conjugated verb (such as an auxiliary do or have or will) at the end — "Likes it hot, he does"; "Park in my spot, will he?" Sometimes we even leave off the verb at the end, when we start with a shortened sentence and then clarify: "Makes a lot of money, your friend?"

Furthermore, Yoda’s syntax varies from movie to movie, because the scriptwriters were different. Read about how Yoda’s distinctive way with words is perfectly understandable to us because it’s not that new or different, at The Week.


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