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  • BBC: Yoda, Sam and Gollum Teach Non-Standard English

    Yoda 'speaks like Anglo-Saxon'

    By Finlo Rohrer
    BBC News Online staff

    'A speaker of non-standard English I am'
    Star Wars character Yoda's sentence structure is similar to old Anglo-Saxon, a linguistics expert has 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 weird non-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."

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3777691.stm
    Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
    Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


    "Never pet a burning dog."

    RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
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  • #2
    I knew there was something fishy there...
    The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. -Carl Jung

    Hell is other people. -Jean-Paul Sarte

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: BBC: Yoda, Sam and Gollum Teach Non-Standard English

      Originally posted by Janos
      Yoda 'speaks like Anglo-Saxon'

      By Finlo Rohrer
      BBC News Online staff

      'A speaker of non-standard English I am'
      Star Wars character Yoda's sentence structure is similar to old Anglo-Saxon, a linguistics expert has 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 weird non-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."

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3777691.stm
      For any language to survive it must be a fluid, almost living thing. This is one of the reasons English has become so widespread. Its not afraid to take what works and is useful from other languages or when needed to create new words and usages. Languages that have extreme rigidity and resist change are destined to fragment at the fringes (ie, Latin) and eventually die.

      A a writer Tolkien probably had more language knowledge than anyone who attempted to write a novel.
      Lance W.

      Peace through superior firepower.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by BarcelonaBlom
        I knew there was something fishy there...
        Now you probably won't like it, now that you know it's educational!

        JS
        Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
        Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


        "Never pet a burning dog."

        RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
        http://www.mormon.org
        http://www.sca.org
        http://www.scv.org/
        http://www.scouting.org/

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Re: BBC: Yoda, Sam and Gollum Teach Non-Standard English

          Originally posted by Lance Williams
          For any language to survive it must be a fluid, almost living thing. This is one of the reasons English has become so widespread. Its not afraid to take what works and is useful from other languages or when needed to create new words and usages. Languages that have extreme rigidity and resist change are destined to fragment at the fringes (ie, Latin) and eventually die.

          A a writer Tolkien probably had more language knowledge than anyone who attempted to write a novel.
          You are absolutely right. Tolkein, a professor of linguistics, was one of, if not the, best linguists in the world in his day, and I'm not sure he has ever been surpassed.

          This interesting thing with his languages is that they are complete and functional. Once you accept the limited vocabulary, there is no reason one cannot converse in any of the languages of middle earth. The languages mirror real earth languages, including Anglo-Saxon, mentioned in the article, as well as Finnish and others. I wish I had a list of what real languages his constructed languages were based on -- that would be an interesting read!

          JS
          Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
          Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


          "Never pet a burning dog."

          RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
          http://www.mormon.org
          http://www.sca.org
          http://www.scv.org/
          http://www.scouting.org/

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Re: BBC: Yoda, Sam and Gollum Teach Non-Standard English

            Originally posted by Lance Williams
            For any language to survive it must be a fluid, almost living thing. This is one of the reasons English has become so widespread. Its not afraid to take what works and is useful from other languages or when needed to create new words and usages. Languages that have extreme rigidity and resist change are destined to fragment at the fringes (ie, Latin) and eventually die.
            Another example - French. They are highly resistant to new words being introduced into their language and have clearly noted the declining use of their language since they impose ridiculous laws about how much English is spoken in their media etc.

            Dr. S.
            Imagine a ball of iron, the size of the sun. And once a year a tiny sparrow brushes its surface with the tip of its wing. And when that ball of iron, the size of the sun, is worn away to nothing, your punishment will barely have begun.

            www.sinisterincorporated.co.uk

            www.tabletown.co.uk

            Comment


            • #7
              Fan of Star Wars original trilogy I am. Like the prequels I did not. Cool was the Yoda lightsaber fight scene, though.
              "You realize that if I could actually purchase a weapon, I would stab you with it now?" --Roy, Order of the Stick #136

              Governor of South Florida, Cuba, Louisiana, Manhattan, Hawaii, Illinois, Moon and Mars. Chief of Cybernetics Div., S.INC

              Comment


              • #8
                I wish we all spoke like in Kubrik's A Clockwork Orange .
                Stay Alert, Stay Alive!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Janos
                  Now you probably won't like it, now that you know it's educational!

                  JS
                  If I didn't like education I wouldn't have been here 773 (and probably going to go up) posts ago...
                  The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. -Carl Jung

                  Hell is other people. -Jean-Paul Sarte

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jim H. Moreno
                    I wish we all spoke like in Kubrik's A Clockwork Orange .
                    Nadsat? Yeah, that was a cool slang language - mostly Russian in origin I believe.

                    Dr. S.
                    Imagine a ball of iron, the size of the sun. And once a year a tiny sparrow brushes its surface with the tip of its wing. And when that ball of iron, the size of the sun, is worn away to nothing, your punishment will barely have begun.

                    www.sinisterincorporated.co.uk

                    www.tabletown.co.uk

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Doctor Sinister
                      Nadsat? Yeah, that was a cool slang language - mostly Russian in origin I believe.

                      Dr. S.

                      Nadsat!!! I became quite fluent in speaking that for a while, much to the concern of those around me (I was also Alex for Halloween once). And yes, the vast majority of words from it were slavic in origin.
                      “To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against that liberty of conscience which is one of the foundations of American life.”

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Re: Re: BBC: Yoda, Sam and Gollum Teach Non-Standard English

                        Originally posted by Janos
                        You are absolutely right. Tolkein, a professor of linguistics, was one of, if not the, best linguists in the world in his day, and I'm not sure he has ever been surpassed.

                        This interesting thing with his languages is that they are complete and functional. Once you accept the limited vocabulary, there is no reason one cannot converse in any of the languages of middle earth. The languages mirror real earth languages, including Anglo-Saxon, mentioned in the article, as well as Finnish and others. I wish I had a list of what real languages his constructed languages were based on -- that would be an interesting read!

                        JS
                        Janos,

                        I actually took a Tolkien class in college and I wish I could remember all of the languages he borrowed from. I remember all of the dwarf names from "The Hobbitt" are right out of the Icelandic Eddas. Even when he is writing in English he often uses the syntax of older languages. If you've ever "waded" through the "Sillmarillion" its even more apparent.
                        Lance W.

                        Peace through superior firepower.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Re: Re: Re: BBC: Yoda, Sam and Gollum Teach Non-Standard English

                          Originally posted by Lance Williams
                          Janos,

                          I actually took a Tolkien class in college and I wish I could remember all of the languages he borrowed from. I remember all of the dwarf names from "The Hobbitt" are right out of the Icelandic Eddas. Even when he is writing in English he often uses the syntax of older languages. If you've ever "waded" through the "Sillmarillion" its even more apparent.
                          I recall that the Dwarf names are from the Eddas, but I drowned in The Silmarillion. Do you recall which languages his were based on?

                          JS
                          Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
                          Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


                          "Never pet a burning dog."

                          RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
                          http://www.mormon.org
                          http://www.sca.org
                          http://www.scv.org/
                          http://www.scouting.org/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I see kids now a days at my sister's high school talking so badly it actually makes me sick. They use words like dawg and homie and word up and all that other crap. What ever happen to the days of proper English and proper behavior
                            Govenour Of Texas and all southern provinces. Kepper Of The Holy Woodchipper.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jeremy Scott
                              I see kids now a days at my sister's high school talking so badly it actually makes me sick. They use words like dawg and homie and word up and all that other crap. What ever happen to the days of proper English and proper behavior
                              Simple -- THEY'RE ORCS!

                              Just making light of a bad situation. You're right of course, and it follows the general lowering of standards in education. It's a sad state of affairs.

                              JS
                              Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
                              Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


                              "Never pet a burning dog."

                              RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
                              http://www.mormon.org
                              http://www.sca.org
                              http://www.scv.org/
                              http://www.scouting.org/

                              Comment

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