for each age is a dream that is dying,

or one that is coming to birth

Posts tagged star wars

1,654 notes


What is Yoda’s syntax in other languages?


Sometimes people ask the best questions on Reddit:

What does Yoda’s syntax look like in non-English versions of Star Wars? For those who aren’t familiar with Star Wars (all two of you), Yoda is an alien who, when speaking English, uses what seems to be an OSV syntax instead of the traditional SVO syntax.

So how do foreign translations of the script handle this? I am particularly interested in what it looks like in non-SVO languages. Are there any translations where Yoda’s incorrect syntax is emulated by using an English-like syntax? Or are other languages’ syntax so free that mistakes in the use of case or verb conjugations must instead be used to emulate Yoda’s “alien” speech?

And some answers so far: 

  • Czech: Free word order. Yoda speaks consistently in SOV. Interestingly enough, putting an object before a verb does sound unusual to most speakers of Czech.

  • Estonian: Free word order language. Yoda retains the English OSV order. This is grammatical in Estonian, but does make it seem as though Yoda is constantly stressing the object phrase as the main point of his statements. This gives his speech an unusual quality.

  • French: An SVO language. Yoda speaks in OSV.

  • German: A SVO or SOV language. Yoda brings the Object to the front (OSV), like in English.

  • Hungarian: A free word order language. There is nothing unusual about Yoda’s speech.

  • Italian: An SVO language. Yoda speaks in OSV. Note: OSV is also the syntax used in the Italian of the less-proficient speakers of Italian from the region of Sardinia.

  • Japanese: An SOV language. Yoda seems to use a more or less correct syntax, with a more archaic vocabulary.

  • Korean: An SOV language. Nothing is unusual about Yoda’s grammar.

  • Norwegian: An SVO language. Yoda speaks in OSV.

  • Romanian: An SVO language. Yoda speaks in OSV. He also places adjectives before the noun instead of after the noun, and uses an archaic form of the future tense.

  • Spanish: An SVO language. Yoda speaks in OSV.

  • Turkish: An SOV language. Yoda speaks in OSV. Note: This order is also used in classical Ottoman poetry, so the syntax may have been chosen in order to emphasize Yoda’s wisdom or age.

(Source: allthingslinguistic, via into-the-weeds)

Filed under linguistics star wars