Is Yoda Hungarian?

Yoda the Hungarian

Yoda the Hungarian

According to our tour guide (on the left, below) on a walk in Budapest, the very special syntax used by Yoda from Star Wars is in fact Hungarian.

Free walking tours, Budapest
As a quick refresher, these are examples of Yoda-speak (from http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/002173.html):

Always two there are, no more.

Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.

Much to learn, you still have.

When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not.

As you can see, it’s just the order of the words that is changed from the English, and in fact some of the sentences he speaks are actually straight English. But where did the idea come from?

The story goes that George Lucas was looking for some unusual speech pattern for Yoda and had a Hungarian technician translate his English lines into Hungarian and back again, and this resulted in the particular Hungarian grammatical order. In Hungarian, this is subject-object-verb, whereas English is subject-verb-object (isn’t linguistics fascinating?).

I’ve seen Yoda-speak referred to as both Yodaese and Yodish and it has been analysed to death by amateur linguists. See a couple of illuminating sites below (none of which mention the Hungarian connection):

Yoda Jeff.com

Yoda-Speak Convertor

If anyone has any more detail on this story, I’d love to hear it! Just add to the comments below.

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6 thoughts on “Is Yoda Hungarian?

  1. I hate to burst your bubble, but Yoda’s speach is patterned off Japanese, as is much of Star Wars (including the plot). The grammatical term for this type of speach is “anastrophe.”

    1. That’s a maybe as well, Newsie. Unfortunately we might never have the definitive answer as George Lucas obviously wants to keep him a bit mysterious. Nice to speculate though!

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