If so smart Yoda is, why does not words the right order in his sentences put?

If so smart Yoda is, why does not words the right order in his sentences put?

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Part three of my series on the impact of high-dimensional geometry on search algorithms will have to wait at least until after the Victoria Day weekend -- I'm crazy busy getting wedding invitations out, working on last-minute book edits and, oh yeah, that Whidbey thing.

However I will take a couple minutes out of my crazy busy schedule to comment on Eric Bakovic's recent posting about why Yoda talks like that.

"My own take is a little more cynical. I think it's just that Yoda is old and wise and therefore speaks in a way that sounds like he's saying something much deeper than he actually is."

I agree -- sort of. I'm not quite that cynical. I always assumed that Lucas was simply ripping off, I mean, making an homage to The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien, a professional linguist with a world-class knowledge of the evolution of the English language, was a master of this technique. Every single character in The Lord of the Rings speaks with a syntax and diction appropriate to their race, age, learning, intelligence and social standing.

Elrond, an Elvish leader who has been alive for millennia, uses a high-class vocabulary with lots of Latin and Greek roots and an archaic, formal syntax. Sam, a young working-class hobbit, uses only modern syntax and a countrified vocabulary. The riders of Rohan actually speak Anglo-Saxon amongst themselves and when they speak "English", use an archaic syntax, but not nearly so archaic as Elrond. They hardly ever use English words derived from Latin.

In my misspent youth I read a lot of badly written fantasy novels, and it is amusing and a little bit sad to see lesser writers try to fake their way through this technique. It takes more than throwing in "thou art the son of the wizard, art thou not?" every now and then to make a character seem authentically archaic. They do a pretty decent job with Yoda. I believe that guy's 900 years old!

  • Well, It always seemed to me it was Latin. It would, However be hard to make very good point because Latin is a very flexible syntax. But generally speaking the verb comes last, and the nouns are differentiated merely by the ending. So it would be perfectly normal to use that word order.

    Although, I am intrigued by the possibility that it's Yiddish Word order, it fits with Yoda's persona .

    (More likely than not it just sounded archaic and formal and Lucas just wrote it like that for the hell of it)

  • he probably was just made that way.

  • It is a little-known fact that the history of English in the galaxy far, far away took a different path from Earth's English before coming to the perfect form it is now on Earth and Coruscant.  897 years before that (when Yoda was 3), gffa English had OSV word order.  Although George Lucas thought they were making it up, they were actually channeling it unawares.

    Although Yoda is gifted, he was never able fully to adjust to speaking the SVO of those young wippersnappers.  

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