Why Does Yoda Talk Backward?

Why Does Yoda Talk Backward?

Yoda is one of the most beloved characters of the Star Wars universe and he remains most people’s favorite character to this day. His popularity only grew with the release of the new Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, and the appearance of Baby Yoda. The character of Baby Yoda has not spoken yet, however, that fact made another popular question resurface when the discourse about it started. So, why does Yoda speak backward?

To be completely honest, there is no correct answer to this question since there is no canonical explanation for it. There are a plethora of fan theories, but the most popular and widely excepted theory states that the basic language isn’t Yoda’s first language which is why he probably speaks in an order which is correct in his native language.

This is an extremely interesting topic but there is not a lot of information about it out there, so if you want to know more about Yoda’s speech patterns and how they came to be, keep reading.

Why does Yoda talk backward? 

Technically there is no right or correct answer to this question since no official Star Wars source touches upon this question. Despite this fact, the question seems to be an everlasting hot topic which is why fans came up with a few interesting theories to explain the question.

It’s possible that we’ll never know why Yoda speaks backward.  The character has been deliberately shrouded in mystery by the creator of the series, George Lucas.

The mystery was so important that despite the fact that Yoda is such an important question, his species isn’t even named. All we know for sure is that Yoda’s odd speech patterns are an unforgettable and iconic feature of the Star Wars films, regardless of why they exist.

One thing that makes this question even harder to answer that there is very little information about Yoda and his species out there, which is why despite the number of theories created by the fans, there is no way of verifying or disproving them.

The most popular one is the one that claims that the basic language in the Star Wars universe which is English, isn’t Yoda’s first language. This is supported by the fact that the most of other beings in the universe, including the robots, speak English.  

This is further backed up by the fact that Yoda doesn’t have different pronunciations or vocabulary, but always speaks in a way that switches the order of the words usually present in English.

All of this would suggest that despite the fact that Yoda is fluent in English it is not his native language. This is the most widely accepted theory, but unfortunately, we don’t have much information about Yoda’s spices which is why this theory could never be confirmed.

Another possible explanation could be tied to Yoda’s age. Yoda was around 900 years old and we could assume that like any other language, the basic language in the Star Wars universe evolved over time. This would suggest that Yoda simply chose to talk in a way that was common when Yoda was Younger. 

Another answer comes from the creator himself. George Lucas once said that Yoda doesn’t actually speak backward, but rather uses a more formal structure of the sentence.

There is also a more technical explanation for Yoda’s speech pattern. This explanation comes from a filmmaking perspective. Yoda is one of the few alien characters in the series who doesn’t have a human-like appearance.

Giving him such a weird speech pattern makes him even more alien and clearly differentiates him from other characters in the series. Giving a character a trait that amplifies one of their traits is a commonly used filmmaking technique.

What is Yoda’s speech pattern? 

Why Does Yoda Talk Backward?

At first, it may seem that Yoda doesn’t actually have a specific pattern to the way he talks. Most people believe he simply talks backward or mixes up the order of the words before saying them out loud. 

To understand the pattern behind Yoda’s speech, we must first understand how we speak and then we can talk about how Yoda’s speech pattern differs from ours.

Many of the world’s most widely spoken languages, namely English and Mandarin are based on subject-verb-object constructions. For example, Yoda grasped a lightsaber.

Another common construction, which is more common among speakers of Japanese, Albanian, and a number of other languages, is subject-object-verb: Yoda grasped the lightsaber. 

A verb-subject-object construction is more uncommon, but it is used in Hawaiian and Celtic languages: Grasped Yoda the lightsaber. 

Perhaps more peculiar is Yoda’s popular speech pattern, in which he orders his sentences object-subject-verb, or OSV: Yoda grasped the lightsaber. Or, to use an example from a Yoda quote, “You still have a lot to learn.”

When you listen to Yoda talk, you’ll notice that it’s not always object-subject-verb, but sometimes a construction. Pullum used to refer to it as XSV, with the “X” standing in for every chunk of the sentence that goes with the verb, even if it isn’t an entity. So, as Yoda says in Episode II: Attack of the Clones, “the mind of a kid is truly wonderful.”

When you try to translate Yoda’s speech from English, it becomes even more perplexing. According to one interesting Reddit thread about linguistics, Yoda maintains the word order used in the English versions of the films in Estonian versions. 

According to one commenter, the grammar fits perfectly with Estonian and it always seems like Yoda is emphasizing the object word as the key point of his sentences. 

The analyzed ways of speaking seem to differ from language to language and it often actually makes sense and is even grammatically correct. This is extremely interesting since it suggests the character was written with an English speaking audience in mind.

Can Yoda speak normally? 

If we continue the favorite fan theory regarding Yoda’s speech pattern we can assume that Yoda had to learn to speak normally if the basic language spoken in the universe isn’t his first language. 

This is supported by the fact that Yoda has a grasp of every other aspect of the language. It would be highly unlikely that he didn’t grasp the sentence pattern of the language as well.

Taking this into consideration the best answer to this question would be that Yoda most likely can speak the proper basic language of the universe, however, he simply chooses not to.

Do all of Yoda’s species talk backward? 

Why Does Yoda Talk Backward?

Unfortunately, this question is another one that will remain unanswered and up for debate. Gorg Lucas followed his rule about Yoda’s mysterious nature and for the most part, this rule was continued once Disney acquired the franchise.

Over time the idea of Yoda being the only one of his kind was debunked. Other characters were introduced. most notably Baby Yoda in the Mandalorian series, however, all of them upheld the same mysterious nature of this species.

The same goes for the way Yoda speaks. There are no cannon sources that would confirm that any other way members of his species talk. Because of all of this, we cannot indefinitely say whether Yoda is the only one of his species that talks in this way or if it is the common way of talking with his species. 

What is Yoda talk called?

Going along the fact that Yoda is purposely left as a mysterious character to further the characterization of Yoda as an older and wiser character in the universe. 

This also applies to the way Yoda speaks. The backward structure of speech doesn’t actually have a name which is why most people refer to it as backward or simply the way Yoda talks. 

However, in this article, we took a closer look into speech patterns Yoda uses. Despite the fact that Yoda doesn’t have a language he uses, the pattern Yoda uses has a grammatical counterpart in English grammar.

Anastrophe is a literary technique that involves inverting the normal order of sentences. This is done to create a specific effect or highlight a point.  The Greek word anastrophe means ” to turn around.

 Anastrophe is generally used by poets to help preserve a rhyme scheme. It’s also often used in prose to give the words a sense of meaning or wisdom. The way Yoda talks in the Star Wars film series is the most famous and prominent example of anastrophe. 

  • Hrvoje Milakovic is co-owner of Fiction Horizon and a big cinephile. Apart from that, he likes to read comics, play games and collect action figures. He has been featured on LifeWire, Yahoo and IMDb, to name a few.