Fronting: Learn from a master we can.

Some of you (who know the powers of the Force) may get the clue in my title right away.  I admit that I was inspired by the most famous Jedi master, Yoda — probably the most beloved character from George Lucas’s Star Wars. Master Yoda has a singular way of using fronting and inversion. I found that many others are just as amused by and interested in the grammar of “Yoda speak.” If you do a Google search on Yoda, you’ll come to the same discovery.

Of course, we don’t want our students to speak like a Jedi master, for that language is only appropriate in a galaxy far, far away. However, I’d like to suggest a way Yoda could liven up an otherwise bland grammar point.

I’ve been asked about fronting and inversion lately, so I decided it would be timely to provide some practice that can increase students’ awareness of fronting. Please see my Fronting_handout. The objective is to help students recognize fronting and strengthen their understanding of when and why it’s used.  The final exercise would be a nice lead-in to an activity with “Yoda speak.” You could prepare a few simple sentences (S-V-O) in advance and then type them into a “Yoda speak” generator.

Share a “Yoda-speak” sentence with your students and ask them to translate it into standard English. Another alternative is to use real quotes from the Star Wars films and have students restate the ideas using standard grammar and/or more common word order in spoken English.

  1. The Force Within is a free app. You can browse a number of quotes and save the ones from Yoda and other Jedi. They tend to sound very formal and literary, creating the right kind of challenge. See if students can paraphrase the ideas using more relaxed language, but correct grammar.
  2. YouTube has many clips featuring Yoda. Here is just one: “Judge me by my size do you?” (Yoda, Empire Strikes Back)


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