Yoda ‘speaks like Anglo-Saxon’
Star Wars character Yoda’s sentence structureis similar toold Anglo-Saxon, a linguistics experthas said. AuthorDavid Crystal also says a number of characters in the Lord of the Rings are excellentexamples of non-standard English for children to study. In his book The Stories of English, the academic even discussesthe effect on pronunciationof the BBC and on vocabulary by the Sun. He said he wanted to attack puristswho would not tolerate non-standard English.
‘Devil speaks Queen’s English’
Mr Crystal, a professor of linguistics at Reading University for 20 years, said Yoda – a Jedi master in the Star Wars films – was a good way to get children interestedin how preferencesin English word orderchanged from the Anglo-Saxon era to that of Middle English.
He told BBC News Online: "It is a nice example if you want to persuadekids and get them interested – if you say Yoda did it they are all ears.
"It is a clever little trick on George Lucas’s part to get an effect. He reverses the order: ‘full of the force I am’. The end of the sentence comes at the beginning."
The author also contrastedthe standard English spoken by some of the characters in Lord of the Rings, such as Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, with the non-standard English, containing slangand dialect, spoken by others.
"Normally in fantasy and science fiction you don’t get variety of English.
"The devilspeaks standard English, the fairiesdo, everybody does. In sci-fi, you go out to a different planetand you meet aliens, but they speak standard English.
"Sam Gamgee speaks non-standard English, Gollum speaks a weirdnon-standard English. Tolkein is special."
Mr Crystal said his mission was for non-standard English to be recognised.
"The history of English is a history of the non-standard language.
"The people I’m attacking are the purists who say language should never change and be ‘like it was when I was a lad‘. The messageshould be that we welcome diversity."
GLOSSARY FOR THIS UNIT
at the beginning
effect on sth
spoken by others
to be similar to sth
to contrast sth with sth
to get an effect
to get children interested in sth
to reverse the order
vmire gyakorolt hatás
kedvezmény, előny, előnyben részesítés
mások által beszélt
gyerekeket érdekeltté tenni valamiben
megfordítani a sorrendet