It all started when a fellow translator posted an image of Yoda, of Star Wars fame, on her Facebook wall. The speech balloon said, “OOYL”, which, of course, is short for “Only once, you live”. Despite obvious pronunciation difficulties, I prefer Yoda’s rendition to the now ubiquitous YOLO.
“My favourite, he is”, I commented. “Ha!”, she responded, as if to signify that she had discovered an important dimension to my personality – or, found further evidence for some theory along the lines that translators generally like to mix words up, by way of fun during early morning exercise.
I cannot be said to be a Star Wars fan, due in part to the fact that I saw the second movie without ever having seen the first. I am, however, a fan of that wise creature, Yoda.
Yoda’s hair, let’s face it, is not his best feature. When British comedian, Lenny Henry, did a spoof of an advert, with an international brand of shampoo being endorsed by a green-tinged Yoda proclaiming, “Because worth it, I am”, there was nothing I could do except jump up and down and dance like a crazy person around the house, all the while shrieking with laughter. I am sorry I cannot find a link for this clip. Suffice to say that when appropriate, I never utter this particular slogan in anything but Yodish.
It was when I was trying to lull myself to sleep at three in the morning thinking of examples of Yoda-speak which occur naturally in English that I remembered the shortest, and arguably the most beautiful, of all Simon and Garfunkel compositions quoted in yellow above.
Right twit, I am, because most examples in English follow the same pattern; the majority involve various permutations of the verb to be. Such utterances are often used for emphasis, as in, “Ah, beautiful, it was!” when waxing lyrical about a sunset, say. I see though, that Grammar Girl tackled this subject several years ago, and a very good article it is too. I shall say no more, then.
Having thought of about thirty examples of naturally-occurring Yoda structures and finding myself no less sleepy thanks to persistent full moon beams (rocket science, it is not), I wondered whether any of my usual sentence constructions would conform easily to Yoda-speak. I decided not, because of my love of subordinate clauses.
Imagine my surprise and delight at discovering on my Internet breakfast round – I eat words for breakfast, as opposed to actual fruit, yoghurt, or cereal – that there is such a thing as the Yoda-speak Generator! Perfect!
I took a short older piece of mine for want of a sample of my writing, and discovered, as suspected, that I do not easily translate into Yoda-speak. For that, one has to simplify. Simplify, I did, and am rather pleased with the result, because the message in my original post has not been, to use a cliché, lost in translation.
My search for the essence of Yoda brought with it another unexpected boon: the discovery of Doug Savage’s wonderful cartoons, specifically this one:
A lot, it says. 😉