Funny Business with Jane Wells

Be or be not? The question, that Yodaspeak


It's been over 30 years since Yoda first hit the screen in "The Empire Strikes Back," perhaps the best film in the Star Wars saga.

Wait, let me rephrase that.

Thirty years it's been since hit the screen Yoda first did.

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The clever way the Jedi master rearranges syntax has been copied and parodied more than Darth Vader's heavy breathing or Luke Skywalker's anguished scream of "NOOOOOOOOOOO!" George Lucas has never explained how or why Yoda speaks the way he does, but my favorite theory is hilariously put forth in the 1999 short film, "George Lucas in Love."

Now, as Disney and Lucas prepare to refresh and extend the "Star Wars" film franchise, the Disney Channel has created "The Yoda Chronicles" in a tie-in with Legos. Legos and "Star Wars" go way back.

I mean, way back LEGOS and "Star Wars" go.

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Turning everything into Yodaspeak is so fun for hardcore fans like me (yes, I'm one of those people), I'm happy to discover that proofreading service Grammarly has joined the fun, coming up with rules for speaking like the small but mighty Jedi. They call it "yodifying."

Rule #1: Inverted word order

"Powerful you have become. The dark side I sense in you." Adjectives, adverbs, etc., come before the subject and verb, not after. Grammarly cautions that "Modifiers, however, must immediately precede the subject-verb phrase, as in: "If into the security recordings you go, only pain will you find." Note that "if" is still placed at the very beginning of the sentence, as it would be in proper English."

If so say you.

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That last line leads to...

Rule #2: Flexible subject-verb order

Yoda sometimes likes to put the verb before the subject to really mess with syntax. "Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained." Grammarly says, "This tells us that the placement of subjects and verbs in Yoda's native language is much more fluid than in English."

Yoda's native language? Thinking too much about this Grammarly is.

Yoda also never uses contractions ("English teachers and lovers of formal writing should be proud of that," says Grammarly) and he often drops the auxiliary form of "to do." For example, "size does not matter" becomes "size matters not." He also skips "to do" in questions asked in the present tense—"What know you of 'ready'?"

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Grammarly "Yodified" some famous quotes from literature. Clearly being word nerds, they picked quotes with which I was unfamiliar. (Please give me bonus points for not ending with a preposition!)

Their suggestions include:

"Across the sky a screaming comes." (Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow")

"The moment English one learns, set in complications do." (Felipe Alfau, "Chromos")

Wow. Or, as Yoda would put it, "Wow."

Since Yoda was a movie character, I prefer to Yodify famous movies lines.

"My heart you broke, Fredo."

"My day make. Go ahead."

"At you, looking,"

More, funnier, suggestions came from Twitter.

"Busy dying or busy living, you will get." @bdubwhite

"Be back I will." @whisperthebull

"Damn, my dear, I don't give a frankly." @BillGriffeth

"Shirley, you will call me not". @TimBiegler

"All the gin joints in all the world into walks she." @psbenefits

"Kind of a big deal I am." @thecoolnoodle

"A bigger boat, you're going to need..." @Larry_Morgan

Funny, that is.

—By CNBC's Jane Wells; Follow her on Twitter: @janewells