Sunday, November 13, 2005

How to Write In "Yoda Speak"

I have to say I am always entertained when I read Yoda dialog written on any of your blogs. Sad to say, some of you write him better than I do! However, sometimes I read comments on the web (not on any of your blogs) by other people who try to write Yoda dialog and completely mess it up. Others often say something to the effect of "I'd say something in Yoda-speak right now, but I can't talk like him."

The truth is, it's not that difficult if you understand basic sentence construction in English. It helps to know the difference between subject, verb, and object or modifying phrases, as well as the difference between action and helping verbs.

So for the benefit of anyone who would like to learn to speak like Yoda, I offer the following pointers:

The Rules Are There Are No Rules
When I first started writing the Yoda blog, I looked over Yoda's dialog in the movies. What I found is that they never gave him a consistant way of speaking. In one instance, his sentences may sound "backwards", as a lot of people put it, then the very next sentence may sound exactly the way you or I would say it.

Consider the following examples from Empire Strikes Back:
"I am wondering, why are you here?"
"I cannot teach him. The boy has no patience."
"He is too old."
"Will he finish what he begins?"

Those sentences are all constructed normally, sort of. Yet, in the same movie, he also has lines like:
"Looking? Found someone, you have, I would say, hmmm?"
"Help you I can. Yes, mmmm."
"Mudhole? Slimy? My home this is."

My point? Don't be overly concerned about writing something exactly the way Yoda would say it, because there is no exact way. I chose early on when writing the Yoda blog to always write Yoda a certain way, just to maintain the illusion. This is why the way I write Yoda doesn't sound exactly the same as Yoda from the movies.

It's Only Kind of Backwards
One of the ways Yoda twists his sentences has to do with placing either the verb or subject object phrase before the verb, usually at the beginning of the sentence, as opposed to after the verb where it would normally go.

For instance, let's look at the line, "My home this is." In "normal speak" it would be, "This is my home."
"This" is the subject.
"Is" is the verb, in this case a linking verb linking the subject to its modifying object phrase.
"My home" would be the object phrase, modifying the subject "This".
Normally this would follow the verb "is". But if we take the object phrase "my home" and put it at the beginning of the sentence, leaving the verb at the end, "This is my home" becomes "My home this is."

(And I thought learning to diagram sentences in school would do me absolutely no good.)

Another way Yoda twists his sentences is to split a verb phrase and put the action verb at the beginning of the sentence before the helping verb.

Let's take the line, "Help you I can." Normally, this would be written "I can help you."
The verb phrase here is "can help".
"Can" is the helping verb.
"Help" is the action verb.
If we split this phrase up and put the action verb, along with its object "you" at the beginning of the sentence, "I can help you" becomes "Help you I can."

So now let's take a few simple sentences and translate them to Yodish:
"I am tired." - "Tired I am."
"He is a doofus." - "A doofus he is."
"I am writing my blog." - "Writing my blog I am." or "My blog I am writing."

To Do or Do Not, The Question That Is
Yoda is also unique in the way that he sometimes uses the word "not".
"Mine! Or I will help you not."
This is pretty simple. Just throw the word "not" after the verb at the end of the sentence, so that a sentence like "I will not help you" becomes "I will help you not."

This is the simplest form of Yodese. Just throw a "hmmm" or "hmmm, yes" somewhere in the dialog.

A Headache, Reading Yoda's Words Gives Me
Some people say it's difficult for them to read so much Yoda dialog (as is found in my blog). It can be rather exhausting. The trick is to try to read it at the same speed as you would anything else. When we don't focus on every word, but scan whole phrases and sentences at once, our brain subcounciously makes sense of it for us. For instance, tehy say taht as lnog as all the wdors in a bolck of txet hvae the corcret frist and lsat letter, the hamun bairn can raed it no mettar how the wdros in the mddlie are mxied up. It's the same principle.

I hope you've found this more helpful than confusing. Now go off and impress your friends and co-workers with your fluent Yodali!


Blogger Captain Typho said...

So what you saying, man?

November 14, 2005 2:31 PM  
Blogger flu said...

Yes, saying what, are you, hmmm?

November 14, 2005 3:42 PM  
Blogger General Grievous said...

I needed this a while ago :P

Thanks Bill

November 14, 2005 4:44 PM  
Blogger Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Enough interestingly, Qui-Gon's Yoda's and blogs are two the I that can "hear" really character's the voices.

Know why, I do not.

November 14, 2005 5:14 PM  
Blogger Qui-Gon Jinn said...

Uh, Jon,
I think I might need, like, a few more brownies to understand what you just said, man.
Let me try...
King illegal forest to pig wild kill in it a is!

November 14, 2005 9:55 PM  
Blogger Jar Jar Binks said...

Tinken, mesa issen, dat berry strangely both Jar Jar and Yoda talk. Even odder mesa sounden when put themsa together mesa does, hmm?

November 15, 2005 4:21 AM  
Blogger Master Yoda said...

I've translated what Jon was trying to say. Actually, it's in two sentences.

Two blogs are enough. Interestingly, Qui-gon's and Yoda's characters really hear the voices that I can.

November 15, 2005 8:23 AM  
Blogger Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Uh, yeah....

Trouble in the cockpit, there is? What is it?

November 15, 2005 9:04 AM  

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