by

yoda-japanese

No doubt, if you’ve taken Japanese lessons from me before, you probably have heard this “rant” before. The one about Star Wars and how it was “inspired” by a Japanese film, and Yoda (which is a Japanese name, by the way) is actually an old Samurai master who speaks with Japanese grammar. I use this as a jumping off point when teaching people about Japanese grammar, so I thought it would be fun to share it with all of you as well!

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehVguHuVvuM’]

The lesson begins with an explanation of “This is a pen.” This sentence seems innocent enough, but really, it’s so full of depth that it’s astounding (or not, really). Most Japanese know this English phrase (“This is a Pen”) and wonder why it’s one of the first things they learn. Sure, it’s a dumb phrase, but if you can say “This is a pen” then you can say “This is a computer,” or “This is stupid” or (with a little bit of tweaking) “This was a pen” or “This wasn’t a monkey.” It’s the foundation of grammar, and since Japanese people have to suffer through it, then you should too. Hopefully Yoda makes it more fun and interesting.

Instead of “This is a pen” we’re going to learn “it is a pen.” This phrase is a lot simpler, and builds you up to “This is a pen.” First, let’s look at the vocab we’ll need in order to say “it is a pen.”

Pen: Pen
It is:
Desu (pronounced dess)

Now, let’s go back to Yoda. How would he say “It is a pen?” That’s right, he’d say “Pen it is.” The same goes for Japanese. If you just took the vocab from the above, how would you say “it is a pen” in Japanese, using Yoda grammar?

English: It is a pen
Yoda:
Pen it is
Japanese:
Pen desu

You can replace “Pen” with anything you want now! “Neko desu” (it is a cat). “Inu desu” (it is a dog). You’re only limited now by vocabulary, which is easy to look up. This pattern applies to past, negative, and past negative tense as well.

It was = deshita
It is not = ja-arimasen
It was not = ja-arimasen deshita

So, we can just throw nouns before all of those grammar points, and make sentences.

English: It was a cat
Yoda: Cat it was
Japanese: Neko deshita

English: It is not water
Yoda: Water it is not
Japanese: Mizu ja-arimasen

English: It was not Koichi
Yoda: Koichi it was not
Japanese: Koichi-san ja-arimasen deshita

There you go – you’re already on your way to speaking Japanese, using Japanese grammar! That wasn’t too hard, was it? If you’re ever confused about Japanese grammar, just think of Yoda and his sexy bod.

Makes me wonder though… how does the Japanese version of Yoda talk when he gets dubbed? “desu pen”? Does he switch to English style grammar? I sure hope so.

  • Pingback: www.japansoc.com()

  • http://www.ronindaytona.com Captain_Ron

    Don't worry Koichi, I was really messed up before you started teaching me Japanese, haha

  • Easy_Roy

    Thnx

    Now understand I do!!!

  • http://omareduardo.com/blog/ omareduardo

    hahaha, wow, now this is awesome!

  • WOTDsctoo

    Hahaha, crazy!!!!!
    Who would have though?

  • pancho1402

    not as messed up as trying to learn Japanese on your own!
    Dam it i need my own personal Yoda to teach me Japanese, and maybe the ways of the force and how to kick ass with a light saber but in the meantime ill settle with the Japanese lessons

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1597410087 Deanna Yokota

    ….

    They don't change it. Yoda speaks normal Japanese in the dubbed films. I just asked the husband, who has never seen it in English and had no idea about how the English version switched it all around.

    So, I'm sorry. But I guess the Japanese won't learn a thing from Yoda's amazingness. :(

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    Boo, that's so lame!

  • Mikhayla

    But to say is not, instead of saying 'ja-arimasen' couldnt you just say 'ja nai' ? Or is there a difference?

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    They're the same meaning, just different levels of politeness. ja-nai is casual form, ja-arimasen is neutral, and dewa-arimasen is formal/polite. I start students out with neutral and then branch out from there later on. SO much easier to learn informal forms after learning neutral / polite forms versus the other way around! :)

  • kitankoe

    Do or do not there is no try…… LOL

  • http://erikagrace303.deviantart.com erika303

    Thanks for the little Japanese lesson XD
    Lol, praise the heavens the word 'pen' in just 'pen'. After just barely finishing hiragana in class, my brain can't take anymore!! ..well at least for today XP

  • http://sleepytako.blogspot.com David

    Haha! On Sundays at the bar I work at it's kinda a goofy night so I end up speaking Japanese in my Yoda voice with the customers. That flips on and off with the pirate voice (arrrrr beerru!). Yea, Sundays are a little strange.

    I remember when I first started to be able to speak Japanese in different voices. It's kind of like when you have your first Japanese dream. One of those achievements that makes you feel good.

  • Digger

    I seem to recall explaining Japanese syntax a while back, and my little sis said, “So basically, talk like Yoda.” I guess she was right.

  • Digger

    Yeah! I remember my first (and only) dream with spoken Japanese. I was lost in Korea, but I couldn't speak any Korean so I had to try to get help from people who knew English/Japanese. I needed $$ so I sold a CD to a Japanese fellow and then started asking him stuff because I was freaked out and lost. I must've been talking too fast, because he was like, “Yokkuri onegaishimasu”. I heard it so clearly. Hehe. My sis used to talk in her sleep in Japanese!

  • Mike

    Loved the Nova bunny in the background!!!

  • elkarlo

    That's a really good way of thinking about it. I find that Japanese grammar is hard to learn, but now with this new Nerdy Reference power, I think it will be easier to deal with.

  • http://spacejay4000.livejournal.com/profile spacejay4000

    im not a huge star wars fan, but i do know what its more or less about and im very familiar with yoda and his strange speech pattern. i had no idea that it was linked to japanese…it all makes sense now!! lol….anywho, i have a question for you based on his speech pattern and japanese grammar.

    in a weird al song called “star wars rap,” yoda says, “Luke, not ready are you.” now is this grammatically correct in japanese? ever since i saw your vblog, ive been thinking about it. but as im not fully versed in yoda speak and japanese, i dont quite know the answer. could you please relieve my curiousness?? thanks!! ^_^

  • ali

    I've got some inside scoop that George Lucas actually named Yoda after one of the main investors in Star Wars, a Japanese man named Mr. Yoda! Only the real Yoda's English grammar is much better than the fictional Yoda's I think.

  • A

    yoda speaks japanese in soul calibur 4 but i've never really paid attention

  • Alexis Olson

    This is really cool and helpful! Let me know if you know of any good videos that help out with that whole これ、それ、だれ、あれ、この、その、こちら、そちら、you know the whole “this” and “that” situation. I take online high school classes but when I was learning this they did not do hat great of a job explaining it!

  • Mikhayla

    oh! Now i get it! Thank you! :D

  • Rosieposie

    I love it I love it I love it! Although hopefully the “hrmmm” yoda sound is optional.. ^_^

  • http://loanmodifyexpress.com/ loan modification addict

    Does he switch to English style grammar? I sure hope so. ———————- no! Yoda is perfect the way he is!!!! LOL

  • Nanci

    I seriously never thought of this before….and I call myself a Star Wars and japanese language fan.

  • kevinnwhat

    yayy pen janakute neko janakute inu janakute yoda desu yo~D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1262171295 Pedro Gustavo Gonçalves Coelho

    If you really want to learn Japanese go to youtube. Youtube is the greatest site in the world. there isn't anything you can't do on youtube… want to learn japanese…? easy:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/Aploosh
    (this videos are for people who don't now nothing at all about japanese language)
    Instead Yoda as teacher you have an old funny-named lady, and she thinks you really are retarded…, you can tell that by the way she speak…

    Good study for everyone!

  • http://aisteal.atomiclemur.com/ Jon Link

    The one borrowing I've always wondered about was if Daredevil comes from Zatoichi. It's also worth pointing out that Kurosawa also borrowed and adapted from the west, Ran, for instance is King Lear.

  • http://www.plantation-shutters.co.uk/ shutters

    This is great – thanks for the post – the video is very good

  • nalivio

    i like that yoda voice at 2:14…rrrrr…pen it is hmmm

  • darthray125

    SO,dose he teach spanish too?

  • Pingback: The Official Star Wars Blog » Learn Japanese with Yoda()

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1532782219 Peter Fay

    That is a brilliant article. I should show my niece this.

    Now, if you could help me with my Japanese pronunciation. For some reason, I keep pronouncing it phonetically.

  • http://gordonator.com gordon

    i kinda figures yoda's speech was somehow inspired by the japanese language all along. this sure makes learning the language much easier. just think of yoda. ('~')

  • monsterofmud

    That Star Wars rap is excellent, but that one's not by Weird Al. For some reason every novelty song on the internet gets his name attached.

  • Pingback: The fandom minute: A greatest hits, Danny Choo, children & ewoks, Yoda Japanese | Jedi Knight Academy()

  • Pingback: Sans Blogue ! » Yoda pour apprendre le japonais()

  • Alexandre

    Yoda might put verbs at the end of the sentence, but he speaks in OSV, not SOV and his subjects come after objects and complements, NOT like Japanese.
    I actually read that there was no language with that exact structure… or at the very least, it's rare. SOV languages are quite frequent.

  • http://www.yocowholesale.com/ Wholesale Korean Fashion

    Wonderful article, just added the site to my favorites. Thanks so much.

  • http://www.dramaplot.com damian

    thanks for the tutorial

  • Pingback: Learn Japanese with Yoda « REALITY: Askewed()

  • http://www.wholesaleclothing4u.com/ Wholesale Dresses

    Wholesaleclothing4u.com is one of chinese leading wholesale clothing distributors dedicated to wholesale of women's clothing. We currently have biggest range of the hottest clothing for sale. No matter you want to buy tops, halter tops, strap tops, skirts ,dresses, t-shirts,or Jackets, you will always find Wholesaleclothing4u.com an ideal place to go

  • http://www.facebook.jp/people/Ishuda-Atsuki/1205710487 Ishuda Atsuki

    こちーさんがすごいです!

  • narutobleach111

    fun to talk like yoda it is yes

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/hatman900 hatman900

    Hrrrmmmm, very useful this is.
    (laughs about Yoda's sexy bod!)

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/hatman900 hatman900

    Hrrrmmmm, very useful this is.
    (laughs about Yoda's sexy bod!)

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/hatman900 hatman900

    oops! I can't believe I just made that mistake.

  • yatafashion

    I love your thoughts! I normally dont even bother to leave comments, but I wanted to let you know that you hit the nail on the head!
    Yatafashion.com Wholesale Korean Fashion is one of chinese leading Wholesale Clothing distributors of women's clothing and Korean Fashion Wholesale bring you stable quality at wholesale prices.

  • yatafashion

    I love your thoughts! I normally dont even bother to leave comments, but I wanted to let you know that you hit the nail on the head!
    Yatafashion.com Wholesale Korean Fashion is one of chinese leading Wholesale Clothing distributors of women's clothing and Korean Fashion Wholesale bring you stable quality at wholesale prices.

  • hikaritennyo

    Actually, it would be: “Ready you are not” because the ending determines the positive/negative.
    YAY! I've learned enough to be useful!
    (^o^)/

  • http://www.1replicawatches.com/ sunny23

    Very nice and fantastic artical. Thanks for sharing. I will come back to read more!

  • http://www.1replicawatches.com/ replica watches uk

    Very nice and fantastic artical. Thanks for sharing. I will come back to read more!

  • Devynne_desu

    Awesomeness. I totally get it now. Thanks a bunch.

  • Greg

    Yoda is also Hebrew for Wise One or Hand of Wisdom according to a fannish Rabbi I once knew. Yod certainly means “Open Hand” and the Jedi actually replicate the letter/pictogram YOD and the related Kaph when they use the Force.

    It is also no secret that Lucas was a huge fan of early Samauri movies and the Jedi costumes and attitudes are a clear reflection of this obsession. I would not be suprised if there were a direct connection between Yoda's grammar and Nihongo.

  • http://www.titanlimousine.com/ Airport Limo

    This will be very useful for many users in more than one ways. Thanks! :)

  • http://www.adgglobalsupply.com/ Tyre Supplier

    I've got some doubt whether this will really help me learn Japanese. Thanks! :)

  • http://www.uniqueromanticgiftideas.com/ 25th Wedding Anniversary

    This sounds interesting to me. Thank you for sharing the video.

  • http://www.apexcreditcards.com/ Compare Credit Cards

    I doubt I can learn from this video clip. But I am sure it is better than nothing. Thank you for sharing this video with us.

  • http://www.holtzsaddleco.com/ Circle Y Saddles

    This video was quite helpful & interesting. Japanese is an interesting language. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.badcreditnic.com/ Second Chance Banking

    This post was really helpful to me. I am glad you shred this post on learning Japanese. Thanks a ton.

  • http://www.nonchexsystemsbanks.com/ Non Chexsystems Banks

    This was quite effective, I must say. Glad you shared this post with us. Thanks.

  • http://www.uniqueromanticgiftideas.com/ 25th Wedding Anniversary

    Thanks for sharing the video as well. It was fun trying to lean Japanese.

  • http://www.holtzsaddleco.com/ Circle Y Saddles

    This video was quite helpful & interesting. Japanese is an interesting language. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.badcreditnic.com/ Second Chance Banking

    This post was really helpful to me. I am glad you shred this post on learning Japanese. Thanks a ton.

  • http://www.uniqueromanticgiftideas.com/ 25th Wedding Anniversary

    Thanks for sharing the video as well. It was fun trying to lean Japanese.

  • Pingback: Learn Japanese Vocabulary Faster By Becoming A Nintendo DS Kanji Sono Mama Jedi Master()

  • lenatpena80

    I love to learn japanese language. There are many awesome cartoons and I watched some of it with only translations. Thanks for the post. fixed annuites

  • http://www.handbags-club.com/ designer handbags

    This will be very useful for many users in more than one ways. Thanks! :)

  • http://www.handbags-club.com/ designer handbags

    This will be very useful for many users in more than one ways. Thanks! :)

  • Baltimore Limousine

    wow let start learning it all together

  • http://www.yukisale.com Wholesale Clothing

    haha, nice post, I like it.

  • Anonymous

    damn, so now i really start questioning myself why did i spent 4yrs in nihonggodaigaku & learn very little compared to what you’ve done here. japanese in a simpler way! ahaha. thx :)

  • http://twitter.com/VXLbeast Nick

    Awesome, thanks much!

    I think German syntax is very similar, is it not?

  • Marcgraci

    Actually, Yoda doesn’t speak in a weird way in the Japanese versions of Star Wars.

  • Anonymous

    Dear customers, thank you for your support of our company.
    Here, there’s good news to tell you: The company recently
    launched a number of new fashion items! ! Fashionable
    and welcome everyone to come buy. If necessary,
    welcome to :===== www. soozone.com========
    T-shirts (Polo ,ed hardy,lacoste) $14
    New era cap $10

    Air jordan(1-24)shoes $30

    Handbags(Coach,ed hardy,lv,d&g) $35

    Jean(True Religion,ed hardy,coogi) $35

    Sunglasses(Oakey,coach,gucci,Armaini)$14

    Bikini (Ed hardy,polo) $18

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_K3PDYWD6Y7WVHVBRZXOY6IOWK4 Sadasd Sdasd

    YOU MUST NOT MISS IT!!!

    ——— http://www.zzcnn.com ———

    The best online stores.Free shipping

    NFL MLB,NBA, Jersey Whole sale $27-$41

    coach chanel gucci LV juicy handbags $ 31

    coogi DG edhardy gucci t-shirts $16;

    CA edhardy vests.paul smith shoes $32;

    Chanel BAPE Gucci Omega Rolex Watches $95

    jordan dunk af1 max gucci shoes $37;

    EDhardy gucci ny New Era cap $16;

    coach okely Armani CHANEL Burberry Sunglass $18;

    ———– http://www.zzcnn.com ———-

  • http://twitter.com/dulcemx dulce

    Thanks for sharing the video as well. It was fun trying to lean Japanese.Como Bajar De Peso En Una Semana

  • Anonymous

    Rather actually! Haha! On Sundays at the bar I work at it’s kinda a goofy night so I end up speaking Japanese in my Yoda voice with the customers. That flips on and off with the pirate voice (arrrrr beerru!). Yea, Sundays are a little strange.

  • http://www.dating24free.com/ free dating london uk

    Always was interested in this theme! It is also no secret that Lucas was a huge fan of early Samauri movies and the Jedi costumes and attitudes are a clear reflection of this obsession. I would not be suprised if there were a direct connection between Yoda’s grammar and Nihongo.

  • Madbeanman

    This reminds of a story from my Japanese class at university back in first year. I remember our lecturer pointing at a pen someone was holding and saying それは何ですか? and the student said これはペンです!Then our lecturer burst ou laughing at said when she was teaching English in Japan there was a one group of students who could only say This is a pen in English and also F*** Y**. She said it was a fun year with them :)

  • http://twitter.com/precioimplantes Martin Mas

    Awesome

  • Bragi029

     This is by far one of the best ways to clearly explain the subtle nuances that separate english and japanese languages. Can’t believe I didn’t think of it, (especially since I wrote a film paper called “Star Wars Samurai” comparing Seven Samurai / Star Wars)

  • craig

    Yoda speaks with Japanese grammar? How odd. I’ve heard a lot said about him being Swedish but not JApanese

  • http://www.google-directions.com Mapquest Google Directions

    i wish i could learn japanese just watching yoda, lol!

  • http://coolmathsgames.net Cool maths

    i think yoda is wise

  • Ice

    Very Cool! My first read on your site and it was amuzing as well as educating. Thumbs up for that.

    I watch tons of anime so I guess I picked up the informal first. 

    I am looking forward to learning much more. Thanks!

    (Will Share the link with a friend we call Yoda, just for fun)

  • Anonymous

    from Yoda can learn japanese HAHA maybe it works 
    let me have a try. THANKS!
     

  • Tofu

    Primarily OSV languages are more rare, but they exist.  And that is an allowable sentence structure in lots of languages in certain context.  It can be used in English, even, usually to emphasize the object of the sentence.  “Do you see Jim over there?” “No, I don’t see him.(SVO)  Ben, I see. (OSV)”

  • Tofu

    Primarily OSV languages are more rare, but they exist.  And that is an allowable sentence structure in lots of languages in certain context.  It can be used in English, even, usually to emphasize the object of the sentence.  “Do you see Jim over there?” “No, I don’t see him.(SVO)  Ben, I see. (OSV)”

  • Wypczs

    http://www.airmaxnikeid.com
    http://www.airmax247mall.com
    http://www.griffeyshoesoutlet.com
    nike air max shoes and air griffey max shoes on sale with high quality and low price.air max 24-7 kids,air max 2011 cheap,new air max 2012,air max 2009 leather,air max 97 running shoes,kids kobe 6,nike lebron sheos,air griffey max I,air griffey max II,air max jr-fall-2011 and so on at a large discount.

     

  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    This is an awesome post for anyone learning Korean/JP, thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/zentoko Talia

    When I was in Tokyo last summer the original Star Wars was on tv (subtitles) and his Japanese was normal… so to explain to my host mom why I thought it was weird that he could be understood I put the verbs on the beginning and mixed around particles… she got it. :)

  • Pingback: Live Action (Chinese) DragonBall Movie()

  • Pingback: Buy Facebook Fans()

  • sungodyamoto

    i find that japanese grammers easy to learn; however, my problem is remembering vocab.

  • osakan

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KevZ8G2l2Mk
    apparently, he uses the typical boring old-people Japanese.

  • Guest

    Now that’s FUNNY! (However true it is.)