Yoda-Speak in Shakespeare Quiz

Yoda-Speak in Shakespeare Quiz

Like Shakespeare, the Star Wars character Yoda sometimes plays around with word order.  Both Shakespeare and Yoda change familiar speech patterns.  Examples:

YODA                                                                 SHAKESPEARE
Much to learn you have.                                 The castle of Macduff I will surprise. 

      The Phantom Menace                                     Macbeth
(Translation:  You have much to learn.)        (Translation:  I will surprise the castle of Macduff.)

Strong am I in the Force.                                 Rude am I in speech . . .         
       Return of the Jedi                                           Othello  
(Translation: I am strong in the Force.)          (Translation: I am rude in speech)

Answer the following questions by unscrambling the word order in sentences from Shakespeare’s plays.
1.  More needs she the divine than the physician.  (Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 2)

     The best modern translation of the sentence is:
      a.  She needs the divine more than she needs the physician.
      b.  The physician needs her more than the divine needs her.
      c.  She needs the physician more than the divine needs her.
2.  Younger than she are happy mothers made. (Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 2)
      The best modern translation of the sentence is:
      a.  Happy mothers are younger than she is.
      b.  Younger girls than she are happy mothers.
      c.  Mothers are made happier when they are younger than she is.  
3.  From that place I shall no leading need. (King Lear, Act 4, Scene 1)
      The best modern translation of the sentence is:
      a.  That place does not need me to lead it.
      b.  I don’t need that place to lead me.
      c.  I won’t need anyone to lead me from that place.
4.  At this same ancient feast of Capulet’s sups the fair Rosaline whom thou so loves. (Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 2)
      The best modern translation of the sentence is:
      a.  Rosaline, the one you love, eats at the Capulet’s traditional feast.
      b.  At the Capulet’s traditional feast you will eat with Rosaline who loves you.
      c.  Rosaline will eat at the Capulet’s traditional feast you love.
5.  Forget not in your speed, Antonius, to touch Calpurnia.  (Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2)
      The best modern translation of the sentence is:
      a.  Don’t forget to speed up, Antonius, so you can touch Calpurnia.
      b.  To touch Calpurnia, Antonius, don’t forget your speed.
      c.  Antonius, don’t forget to slow down so you can touch Calpurnia.

 

 

 

ANSWER KEY:  YODA-SPEAK IN SHAKESPEARE QUIZ

 1.  A     2.  B     3.  C     4.  A     5.  C

GRAMMAR ANALYSIS OF YODA-SPEAK

In English the most common word order is subject-verb-object.  Adjectives come before nouns (He is a tall man.).  Adverbs come after verbs (She speaks softly.). Prepositional phrases typically follow the word they describe (The house on the corner is mine.).  Yoda switches the word order like this:

STANDARD ENGLISH                                           YODA
You are strong, Luke.                                           Strong you are, Luke.

I go sadly into the mist.                                        Into the mist sadly go I.

The future is always in motion.                          Always in motion the future is.

I can’t go there.                                                     Go there, I cannot.

Shakespeare’s plays are full of examples of syntax inversion:

Look I so pale, Dorset, as the rest?  Richard III

Repays he my deep service with such contempt?  Richard III

So foul and fair a day I have not seen.  Macbeth

Round about the cauldron go. In the poisoned entrails throw.  Macbeth

Weeds of Athens he doth wear.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Out of this wood do not desire to go.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Blind is his love and best befits the dark.  Romeo and Juliet

Came he not home tonight?  Romeo and Juliet

Vexed I am of late with passions of some difference. Julius Caesar

Knew you not Pompey?  Julius Caesar

Syntax inversion is a literary device that pre-dates Shakespeare.  Translations of Homer’s Iliad use it:  “Proud is the spirit of Zeus-fostered kings.”  Inversion is common in the King James Version of the Bible:  “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither.” 

The Star Wars screenwriters use syntax inversion to characterize Yoda as an ancient Jedi Master.  Inversion also makes Yoda’s lines stand out, reinforcing his superior wisdom and status. 

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