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?

  • 53
    Know the answer, I don't
    – Eregrith
    Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 9:25
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    Answer in here scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/10971/…
    – Kurt
    Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 10:12
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    "Many tourists to Dagobah, we do not get. Every trick to keep them entertained, we need to pull." - Yoda. Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 10:16
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    When nine hundred years old you reach, speak as well you will not. Hmm?
    – Kyle Jones
    Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 10:24
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    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. Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 18:01

3 Answers 3


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. Commented May 2, 2012 at 16:52
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    @ChrisB.Behrens: There aren't enough +1s for that comment.
    – Tynam
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 23:53
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    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
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 20:14
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    Japanese is mostly subject object verb whereas yoda speaks mostly object subject verb.
    – Escoce
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 15:25
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    @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
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 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
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 12:02
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    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
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 10:53

Per Dave Filoni (quoting Frank Oz), Yoda's method of speech is an affectation, rather than his usual mode of speech, noting that another member of his species (Yaddle) speaks normally

“Does she speak backwards? I’m like, ‘No, I don’t think so. I think that’s a Yoda thing. Frank Oz told me once that Yoda speaks that way specifically in honor of his own master. That was what he had thought about it. I try to keep moving forward these thoughts. And Bryce on her own made a great Yaddle.”


The implication here is that Yoda is perfectly capable of speaking Basic with the correct syntax, but for his own reasons chooses not to.

This is confirmed in the (canon) Yoda #7. He can speak Basic perfectly well.

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  • 1
    A possible inspiration: the evil Voltamen in The Lost World (long-running serial in Planet Comics) also spoke English with a weird word order (which one reader suggested was based on Latin): "OUR GLADIATORS NO FEAR HAVE...THEY THE BEAST NOW CHARGE...BUT LOOK...OUR MEN FALL...MYSTERIOUS POWER THE BEAST HAS...OUR SHIPS FOR LAUNCHING PREPARE." - Planet Comics #57, Nov. 1948
    – user14111
    Commented Nov 21, 2022 at 2:30

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