Sign up ×
Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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?

share|improve this question
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 at 18:01

5 Answers 5

up vote 36 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.

share|improve this answer
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

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.

share|improve this answer
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 at 10:53

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?

share|improve this answer
So, you're theorizing that Yoda is German? – phantom42 Apr 17 at 19:15
Is there any reason to suspect that Yoda is German? – Richard Apr 17 at 19:48
No. But I theorize that the person who created the character Yoda, and Yoda's language anomaly, may have known at least some German. – Delmarva Apr 25 at 17:30
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 at 17:37
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 at 21:15

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.

share|improve this answer
Do you have a reference for Yoda using a translation device? – Jason Baker Jul 17 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.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.