In every other Star Wars scene I can recall, Palpatine/Sideous speaks in normal English. Yet during Anakin's transformation into Darth Vader he suddenly starts using the same speech pattern (object-subject-verb) that is characteristically used by Yoda.

PALPATINE: The Force is strong with you. A powerful Sith you will become.
(Revenge of the Sith)

This seems jarringly uncharacteristic for Palpatine.

Is this usage one-off occurrence? Why does he suddenly switch to a different speech pattern here?

  • 1
    Yoda was surely a father figure to Anakin. Maybe Palpatine was using this figure of speech to subtextually show himself as a father figure to Anakin. Jan 9, 2017 at 13:05
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    I don't read that as similar to Yoda. I feel like that would be "Strong with you, the Force is. A powerful Sith become you will."
    – Alarion
    Jan 9, 2017 at 13:23
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    Well, the first sentence is normal English. That's what makes the second so odd. It is definitely Yoda-esc. Object: Sith. Subject: you. Verb: become. Jan 9, 2017 at 13:25
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    A lot of what sounds like 'Yoda-speak' is just antiquated English, which is sometimes used to make things sound more regal or religious. Yoda doesn't have a monopoly on strange sentence structure. Jan 9, 2017 at 14:46
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    @Alarion I think Yoda would say the second sentence like this: "Become a powerful Sith, you will".
    – Caleb
    Jan 10, 2017 at 18:00

1 Answer 1


This is largely an out-of-universe answer.

Using odd sentence structure like this is much more common in antiquated English, for instance from the Renaissance. Specifically, poets would restructure their sentences so that the rhymes could work better. For instance, look at the first stanza of this John Milton poem, On the Morning of Christ's Nativity:

This is the month, and this the happy morn,| Wherein the Son of Heav'n's eternal King,| Of wedded Maid, and Virgin Mother born,| Our great redemption from above did bring;| For so the holy sages once did sing,| That he our deadly forfeit should release,| And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.

As you can see, a lot of the time the verb is at the end of the sentence/phrase. Aside from making it easier to rhyme, this choice was made to more closely resemble Latin. From this blog post:

In Latin, word order is flexible... the ancient Romans preferred that the verb be placed at the end of a sentence

Latin was used for many years in Europe as the language of science and religion, so if you wanted to sound smart or religious you could try to make your English follow Latin sentence structure.

In modern times, using this sentence structure often implies an association to an ancient order, or vast stores of knowledge, or a spiritual enlightenment. I think when it's invoked in Revenge of the Sith, it's meant to mark Palpatine's shift from a frail politician to a wise and powerful Sith lord.

It's possible there was originally a similar intention with Yoda, to make him sound like a fancy old Jedi, but after Empire his speech patterns lost most of their resemblance to English from any time period.

  • 1
    I like this answer but I'd just like to qualify that poets don't only (or even mainly) reorder for solely technical reasons (nor do Yoda or Palpatine do it arbitrarily). There's a tension in English between its relatively fixed, natural SVO word-order and the tendency for initial words and phrases to be seen as in emphasis. It's a technique called "fronting" and is widely used throught spoken and written English. What distinguishes Yoda's fronting is that he does so constantly and without any attempt to restructure the sentence for increased naturalness (such as by adapting verb tense/mood).
    – user101494
    Jun 10, 2018 at 16:24

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