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Yoda's unique speech consisting of reversed grammar is iconic.

Is there any reason he has adopted this speech pattern?

All other alien species encountered seem to have no trouble speaking normally. Why does Yoda speak in this way?

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Know the answer, I don't – Eregrith Feb 14 '12 at 9:25
Answer in here… – Kurt Feb 14 '12 at 10:12
"Many tourists to Dagobah, we do not get. Every trick to keep them entertained, we need to pull." - Yoda. – Wikis Feb 14 '12 at 10:16
When nine hundred years old you reach, speak as well you will not. Hmm? – Kyle Jones Feb 14 '12 at 10:24
English is SVO (Subject-Verb-Object) word order; Yoda's native language would seem to be OSV (Object-Subject-Verb) order, and he continues to use the more familiar ordering -- since he's always understood, he probably never saw reason to force himself to use the more (to him) alien-sounding SVO word-order of English. – LindaJeanne Sep 3 '15 at 18:01
up vote 41 down vote accepted

Out of universe, his strange syntax has a high symbolism of Yoda's personality; he always put action last. This fits well with the old master and hermit guru archetypes.

In universe, we don't know much about Yoda's species mostly because "George Lucas maintains a strict policy of keeping the history, name, origin, and whereabouts of this species secret".

From Yoda's Wookieepedia article :

Yoda spoke an unusual version of Basic. He usually tended to place verbs (especially auxiliaries) after the object and subject (an object-subject-verb format). An example of Yoda's speech pattern: "When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not." Most agreed that this pattern of speech was convoluted, and while it seems as though others of his species (e.g. Yaddle) had the same penchant for rearranging sentences, not all of them did (e.g. Vandar Tokare).

So, since others (but not all) of his species speak this way, it's probably a cultural matter.

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Fun fact - this is how Latin is organized, generally, with the verb at the end of the sentence. Fac vel non fac... "attempta" ibi non est. – Chris B. Behrens May 2 '12 at 16:52
@ChrisB.Behrens: There aren't enough +1s for that comment. – Tynam Feb 5 '13 at 23:53
I don't know where I read this this, or saw this, or dreamt this (LOL!) but I remember something about Yoda's gramatical speech to emulate the Japanese language which follows this pattern. Something about the whole Samurai/Jedi connection. This may be totally wrong, but I do remember hearing it somewhere. – MikeV Oct 30 '14 at 20:14
Japanese is mostly subject object verb whereas yoda speaks mostly object subject verb. – Escoce Dec 17 '15 at 15:25
@Escoce Latin too, for that matter. Latin doesn’t rely on word order for grammar (aside from putting adjectives next to the words they modify and prepositional phrases together), so any order is possible, but subject object verb was more-or-less the conventional ordering. – KRyan Feb 4 at 21:56

Presumably, English (or the equivalent in the Star Wars universe), isn't the first language of Yoda's species. Speakers of 2nd and 3rd languages to their mother tongue often struggle, sometimes permanently, adjusting to new grammatical conventions in other tongues. Many, just as we see with immigrant populations on earth, adjust well and manage to speak fluently like natives. Other individuals will learn just enough to get by and never bring their language level past a certain level of polish. Presumably, when Yoda was learning the language, it wasn't done in a setting that focused on grammar and proper syntax. Perhaps he learned it by ear, or taught it to himself in isolation.

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More specifically, people often learn the words, but stick with aspects of the grammar of their first language, like the word order. – SQB Feb 11 '14 at 12:02
I'd always assumed this was the reason. That and coupled with his age and how languages evolve over time could cause confusion when keeping up with different languages – gabe3886 Jul 17 '15 at 10:53

his language is funny because it is object-subject-verb. an unusual structure. but he speaks in English in OSV order due to the translating device that he uses. that is, the character and structure of yoda's native language remains unknown. but it is certain that his translating device encodes his native language in OSV.

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Do you have a reference for Yoda using a translation device? – Jason Baker Jul 17 '15 at 1:03

My theory is that he always arranges his words in order of importance, starting with the most important word and working his way towards the last, which can usually be guessed based on the preceding words and thus becomes almost unnecessary.

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I know German as a second language. German grammar tends to place its verbs at the ends of its sentences, though not always. Maybe his brain half German is.

Can any other German speakers comment?

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So, you're theorizing that Yoda is German? – phantom42 Apr 17 '15 at 19:15
When I presented this idea to 2 German/English speakers on Twitter, both had a WOW! EUREKA! moment. One teaches German @ a university, the other took it in college. Both thought it was extremely cool. – Delmarva Apr 25 '15 at 17:37
Noob here: May I presume that George Lucas not only created Yoda's character, but also created Yoda's manner of speaking? – Delmarva Apr 25 '15 at 17:39
This is generally not true. Basic German word order is SPO, just like English. None of the quotes in this thread would put the verb at the end in translation to German. – TaW Aug 4 '15 at 21:15
I have heard that Yoda was inspired by Albert Einstein, so you may have a point. However, in German, only the second half of a split predicate is at the end of the sentence. Yoda actually places the first half of a split predicate at the end of the sentence (or the entire predicate if it is not split). One of my friends comments bad grammar with: "Du Deutsch gelernt bei Yoda hast?" (You German learned from Yoda have?) – fNek Dec 17 '15 at 14:59

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