Episode V: The Bullivant Scribe Strikes Back!

While watching “The Empire Strikes Back” last night, I was appalled by the ruthless way in which Yoda butchered the English language. I know, I know . . . Yoda is a Jedi Master, he is really old, and he deserves our respect. But still, someone must stick up for our language—no matter who does the butchering (or how awesome he is with a saber made of pure energy).

As the Scribe has patiently explained before, standard English sentences should follow a subject-verb-object order. (“Ahh . . . father. He was a powerful Jedi. Powerful Jedi.”) But Yoda shifts around sentence elements, generally using an object-subject-verb word order. (“Ahh . . . father. Powerful Jedi was he. Powerful Jedi.”)

So I challenged Yoda to a contest. But the diminutive master of the Force hasn’t responded to my challenge, and I simply haven’t the time to go to Dagobah. Which means that you, my loyal readers, must decide whether you prefer the original Yoda sentences—or the Scribe’s edited version of those sentences. The sentences are set out below, first in Yoda-speak, and then in the Scribe’s revised versions. Using the poll below, vote for Yoda or the Scribe. Before my post next week, I’ll let you know how badly I crushed the little master.

  • Try not. Do … or do not. There is no try. [Yoda]
  • Do it . . . or don’t. [Scribe]


  • Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. [Yoda]
  • Size is irrelevant. Especially when you have a cool ally like the Force. [Scribe]


  • 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. [Yoda]
  • I’ve been training Jedi for 800 years. So I think I’ll go with my opinion about your readiness, not yours. [Scribe]


  • Decide you must, how to serve them best. If you leave now, help them you could; but you would destroy all for which they have fought, and suffered. [Yoda]
  • It’s a tough choice. You can leave and help them—but that would undo everything for which they fought and suffered. [Scribe]


  • Look I so old to young eyes? When 800-years-old you reach, look as good you will not. [Yoda]
  • You won’t look so good when you’re 800, youngster. [Scribe]

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Filed under Exemplary Writing, Grammar, Style

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