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Yoda ‘speaks like Anglo-Saxon’
Star Wars character Yoda’s sentence structureis similar to old Anglo-Saxon, a linguistics experthas said. Author David Crystal also says a number of characters in the Lord of the Rings are excellent examples of non-standard English for children to study. In his book The Stories of English, the academic even discusses the effect on pronunciation of the BBC and on vocabulary by the Sun. He said he wanted to attack purists who 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 interested in how preferences in English word order changed from the Anglo-Saxon era to that of Middle English.
He told BBC News Online: "It is a nice example if you want to persuade kids 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 contrasted the 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 slang and dialect, spoken by others.
"Normally in fantasy and science fiction you don’t get variety of English.
"The devil speaks standard English, the fairies do, everybody does. In sci-fi, you go out to a different planet and 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 message should be that we welcome diversity."
Anglo-Saxon – angolszász
at the beginning – kezdetben
author – szerző
devil – gonosz, ördög
dialect – dialektus
diversity – különbözőség
effect on sth – valamire gyakorolt hatás
excellent – kitűnő
fairy – tündér
lad – ifjú, legény
linguistics expert – nyelvész szakértő
message – üzenet
planet – bolygó
preference – kedvezmény, előny, előnyben részesítés
pronunciation – kiejtés
purist – purista
sentence structure – mondatszerkezet
slang – szleng
spoken by others – mások által beszélt
to attack – megtámad
to be similar to sth – hasonló valamihez
to contrast sth with sth – valakivel ellentétben
to discuss – megvitat, vitat
to get an effect – hatást gyakorolni
to get children interested in sth – gyerekeket érdekeltté tenni valamibe
to persuade – meggyőz
to recognise – felismer
to reverse the order – megfordítja a sorrendet
trick – trükk
weird – furcsa
word order – szórend