troperville

tools

toys

SubpagesLaconic
Main
Quotes

main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Strange Syntax Speaker

"Stop, thief! No welcome wagon, 'hello stranger' with that good coffee flavor for you! Offer expires while you wait; operators are standing by."
Wreck-Gar, Transformers: The Movie

This trope deftly describes when wily characters can't understand unusual dialog delivered brazenly by an alien or outsider. The twist? While words are apprehensible, the text's syntax — significant rules regulating grammar generation — remain reclusive. Perhaps paired words will always alliterate, or orators must mangle texts to fit fifteen-syllable sentences. Regrettably, results sound strange, appearing as garbled gibberish to the central characters, but basic sentence syntax conforms coherently to the strange speaker.

Critical concept: attending audience can clearly surmise sense after attaining strange syntax's prime principles. Axiom acclimation therefore turns into intriguing core component of overture.

Can come as a radical result of other trope titled, fittingly, Future Slang, since Strange Syntax Speaker shows principal precepts are aggressively changed, contrasted against adversary trope's trend of only exchanging expressions. Frequently, fictional and alien words will be broached to trouble the turgid fiction further. Sometimes, said words will be begrudgingly obscure, of course clouding the talking attempts anon.

When wacky rules run obscenely obtuse, strange speaker can commonly appear as Cloudcuckoolander, laughed at and/or otherwise made misunderstood. Regular recurring scenario sets protagonists pursuing education, enlightenment of obscure syntax system for finding important information.

Compare, contrast against alternatives Conlang (covering artificial argots overall) or singsong Starfish Language; look also at vanilla Verbal Tic trope. Intermittently, Iambic Pentameter presents itself in many media as a common case.

Zestful? Zero Wingrish would compare concepts.

If indigenous syntax strange to travelers, this trope can convene. Excessive examples abound; avoid listing live representations resultant, otherwise Ocular Gushers guaranteed following futility.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Black Dossier, the character Galley Wag is from a dark-matter dimension and speaks in a bizarre slang like "Bread and Tits!" and "Huff yer oyver in all you'm tick senned such a plumious sparktackle?" While the statements make sense in context, the human Mina can understand Galley Wag and provide translation.
  • Often employed in Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol — the Scissormen speak in nonsense phrases, the Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. speak in sentences that are expansions of that acronym, the Pale Police speak nonsense that is anagrams of what they want to say, and so on.
  • Blindfold, from the X-Men, speaks rather oddly, usually by putting too many polite phrases in her speech, and when referring to locations when using her psychic powers.
    • It doesn't help that half the time she's talking to her invisible friend Cipher
  • The New 52 Teen Titans featured Thrice, a team of three metahuman brothers with powers that involve merging into one body and splitting apart. The combined form always uses first person and first person plural pronouns, possessives, etc., referring to "I/We", "me/us", and so on.
  • R'amey Holl, a member/warrior of the Green Lantern Corps, speaks/communicates in a dual way that leaves multiple interpretations/readings for each of her sentences.
  • Transformers character Weirdwolf, like Yoda, backwards, he speaks.
  • On that note, Invincible briefly featured a species of alien shark-people who speak similarly (though without commas). Their sentences also aren't always completely grammatical if you were to shift them back into normal syntax. "Made clear to me it is. Dead my men are. None left there is but us. See this I can."
    • Invincible also brings us Octoboss, the crime lord from "another world" who's been terrorizing Earth for several decades. Syntax and prepositions are completely beyond him.

    Fan Works 
  • Nobody Dies: Arael's speech can be... interesting to try to decipher:
    "We are (not simply [more than {we are the mechanism of life eternal} monsters] monsters) what we must be."
    "I have done (created [brought the {saved us all} next age] wonders) the impossible."
  • In the Pony POV Series Chaos Verse, Nightmare Phobia StaRtS TalKIng lIKe ThiS after she hits her Villainous Breakdown.
  • Back in the original Pony POV Series, the Wolf in the Shining Armor Arc is an odd example. Every word it speaks is represented by being written backwards, with the first (technically last) letter always capitalized.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Junkions from Transformers: The Movie speak entirely in commercial jingles and other pop-culture soundbites. A visitor's ability to understand them depends entirely on one's ability to "talk TV".
    Wreck-Gar: "Yes, friends, act now! Destroy Unicron! Kill the Grand Poobah! Eliminate even the toughest stains!"
    • Definitely done as a Shout-Out to "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Dare To Be Stupid", which is the Junkions' Leitmotif and uses commercial slogans for its lyrics.
    • Also from the movie, Wheelie speaks entirely in rhyme.
      Wheelie: Friend find, look behind! You go wrong way, you fool I say.
      Grimlock: Me Grimlock fool?
      Wheelie: Picture you got, now fool you not!
  • Zig Zag the Grand Vizier from The Thief and the Cobbler speaks entirely in rhyme. Since he's voiced by Vincent Price, it's all kinds of awesome.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Star Wars, Master Yoda usually speaks with a Object-Subject-Verb word order. A defining characteristic, his strange syntax is, and often parodied.
    • He was much less rigid with this in the original trilogy, and could sometimes even turn an eloquent phrase here and there (like "Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny!" or "do or do not, there is no try"). In the prequels it's Flanderized and he almost never speaks in any other order, regardless if horribly butchered the resulting language becomes ("Not if anything to say about it I have!").
    • It's been speculated that Yoda's speech is essentially that of a Galactic Basic speaker from 8-900 years ago, when Yoda was young. This would explain why the member of Yoda's species in Knights of the Old Republic, who's otherwise a Yoda expy, uses the same syntax as everyone else. If the ancient dialect is thought of as being "translated" to "modern Galactic Basic" for the convenience of the audience, then Vandar Tokare's syntax didn't stand out from that of other characters because everybody was using more Yoda-like syntax.
    • In one episode of the Star Wars: Clone Wars, Yoda uses a Jedi Mind Trick to get one of Padme's guards to agree with him. Hysterically, this leads to the guard talking in the same way as him. Padme sees right through it, but goes along with it.
    • In the prequels, Jar Jar Binks, and to a lesser extent the other Gungans, speaks a pidgin Galactic Basic that involves dropping articles such as "the" and using "me" in place of "I" and adding random syllables to otherwise standard words ("meesa" instead of "I am," "bombad" to mean "bad," etc.). As the Gungans were widely interpreted as expies of people of recent African descent or indigenous peoples in general, this was rife with Unfortunate Implications.
  • Played for comic effect in Airplane!! with Jive.
  • V for Vendetta: V's vernacular vigilantly vexes viewers via very variant vocabulary.
    Evey: ...are you like, a crazy person?
    V: I am sure they will say so.
  • In A Clockwork Orange, the gang's "Nadsat" slang often involves unusual word order, conjugation and word choice in addition to the mostly Russian-based slang words. The film's version is less pronounced than the book's, since the viewer only has about 90 minutes to become accustomed to it.
  • The Sheriff of Rottingham from Robin Hood: Men in Tights starts transposing his words whenever he starts to get angry. Usually he just transposes a word or two ("Over that boy hand!"). But when Robin and Marian kiss during the banquet he completely loses it:
    Sheriff: "KING ILLEGAL FOREST TO PIG WILD KILL IN IT A IS!"
    Everyone: "What?"
    Sheriff: "It is illegal to kill a wild pig in the King's forest!"

    Literature 
  • Jeanne from Charles Baxter's Shadow Play invents her own language, with words like "corilineal", "zarklike", "descorbitant", "housarara". And it's just a small part of her Cloudcuckoolander madness.
  • The aliens in Theodore Sturgeon's novella "The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff" use this in written form. It's implied that the words in brackets represent alternative translations of alien words that have more than one common meaning, or nonsense words for concepts inherently untranslatable. The alternatives are often hilariously incompatible, like [escape|die].
  • New Speak, from George Orwell's 1984, uses strange syntax in an effort to simplify the language and reduce the number of words. However, most of the novel is written in standard English, or "Oldspeak."
  • The teens from A Clockwork Orange speak Nadsat, which is includes Cockney rhyming slang, Anglicized Russian and German words, and a generally unsual syntax, such as Dim's assertion, "Bedways is rightways now..."
    Alex: There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, Dim being really dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar making up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening, a flip dark chill winter bastard though dry.
  • Arguably, Finnegan's Wake.
    "Behove this sound of Irish sense. Really? Here English might be seen. Royally? One sovereign punned to petery pence. Regally? The silence speaks the scene. Fake!"
  • The Book of Dave by Will Self has a futuristic language called Mokni, a phoneticized form of Cockney mixed with bastardized London cabbie slang.
  • The house elves (Dobby, Winky, etc.) in Harry Potter use a strange syntax, particularly in the way they conjugate verbs ("You is being a very bad house elf!"). They mostly come off sounding uneducated, which is hardly surprising given their slave status in the books.
  • The Chur, from Katherine Kerr's Snare, typically speak at a frequency so low humans can't hear it, but can speak human languages if they strain. When doing so they use then-now-next strange grammar, including giving verbs a suffix indicating time ("they say-then", "we go-soon"), and presenting alternatives when asking a question or when uncertain ("We know-not if you lie not lie", "You understand not-understand?").
    • Interestingly, the last two examples are very similar to how a native Mandarin speaker would speak English, since that is almost exactly the way it is said in Mandarin ("we not know" rather than "we know-not").
  • Mr Jingle in The Pickwick Papers - strangely incoherent speech - talks like a telegram - rum fellow - very.
  • From Terry Pratchett, both Foul Ole Ron in the Discworld novels and Mrs Tachyon in Johnny and the Bomb speak in nonsense phrases, a favorite being "Millenium hand and shrimp". Whether their mutterings actually have a coherent underlying syntax is undetermined, though Gaspode (Ron's talking dog) clearly understands him. 'Millenium hand and shrimp' itself apparently came from a Chinese food menu and the lyrics to "Particle Man" in a random word selector.
    • In Sourcery, the captain of the ship that carries Rincewind and Conina to Al-Khali talks like a less-educated version of Yoda.
    • Carrot's... let's call it "idiosyncratic" approach to punctuation (basically a grammatical equivalent of Spray And Pray) makes his writing a bit of this.
      • Carrot's approach to writing falls under (and is the trope namer for) Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma. It's not a strange syntax that he habitually uses in normal speech and writing. Just a very... overzealous approach to the use of commas.
  • Mannie in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress speaks (and narrates the entire novel) without using articles or other "nulls" (what he considers meaningless words), as well as Russian and Australian slang.
    • Justified in that the PRC now has an empire which includes both Australia and much of the Asian part of the USSR, and has shipped a lot of 'undesirables' off to the moon.
      • Also by the fact that Russian lacks articles.
  • Most aliens in Retief speak in odd ways.
    • The example of the Groaci. To begin all sentences with either abstract nouns or verbs in the infinitive.
  • A peripheral alien character in the Star Trek: Titan series of books started out speaking in mangled syntax (which makes no sense; as a Starfleet officer, he would have a universal translator). He's since stopped doing that.
  • Herald Alberich from Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series routinely speaks Valdemaran with Karsite word order. He was born and raised in Karse and only ended up in Valdemar after being kidnapped/rescued by a Companion, who eventually psychically fed Valdemarian vocabulary into his head... and only vocabulary, leading Alberich to use Valdemarian words with Karsite grammar.
  • In Kurt Vonnegut's Deadeye Dick, Haitian Creole is said to only have a present tense, leading to some very odd grammar. Of course, it's implied that the Haitians simply don't bother trying to teach the American proper grammar.
    "He is dead?" he said in Creole. "He is dead," I agreed. "What does he do?" he said. "He paints," I said. "I like him," he said.
  • The cockroaches from Gregor The Overlander tend to mix up verb and subject placement as well as using repetition of certain sentence elements, such as "Do it, I can, do it," or "be small Human, be?"
  • In Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Binabik is using progressive aspect even when he is meaning to express habitual or stative verbs.
  • The first book from the Eisenhorn trilogy gave us the alien Saruthi, who did this when they spoke English Gothic. Ironically, that was probably the least strange thing about them
  • In The Wheel of Time, everone raised in Illian uses "do be" instead of conjugating "is."
    • Taraboners often state everything as questions, yes?
  • Spook from the first Mistborn trilogy speaks really oddly in the first book, using a nigh-incomprehensible form of street slang. In one scene the whole crew gets in on it, much to Breeze's annoyance. Amusingly enough, by the time of The Mistborn Adventures, his guttural street slang is considered to be the Classical Tongue.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Jaqen H'ghar has an odd type of Third-Person Person in which he never uses "I", but instead will use "A Man". So like instead of saying "I'm called Jaqen H'ghar" he would say "A man calls himself Jaqen H'ghar". This may be because he belongs to a faction whose members give up their personal identities, although it seems more like an individual Verbal Tic.
    • Salladhor Saan is using the gerund form whenever the situation is calling for a verb, as well as being another Third-Person Person.
  • The Trofts from The Cobra Trilogy. [The noun, they place it first].
  • In The Sword of Truth, Adie never declines the verb "be". It is a trait of her home language. Others from the same land were shown to speak in a similar manner, but occasionally use ordinary grammar.
  • In The Phantom Tollbooth, when the Humbug knocks over the stalls in the marketplace at Dictionpolis and the words spill out everywhere, the salesmen are unable to voice their complaints in correct word order.
  • Star Carrier: A small example with the Agletsch, although this is more a feature of their translation devices. Specifically, their questions are statements with a "yes-no" added at the end. It's not much different from an English sentence ending in "isn't it?", although that implies that the Agletsch are unable to ask an open-ended question.

    Live Action TV 
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Darmok," Captain Picard is stranded with an alien who speaks a language composed entirely of figurative phrases. The Universal Translator gets their literal meaning just fine, but without knowing the stories they're alluding to, it's impossible to decipher what they're actually talking about.
  • River Tam from Firefly. It's uncertain whether she's speaking from some consistent internal syntax, or her dialogue is a result of her traumatic background. It generally sounds like she automatically says whatever pops into her head before her thoughts are finished. Simon says something to that effect in one episode.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985) episode "Wordplay" is based on this trope. A man has an unusual experience: The people around him are suddenly using words incorrectly, e.g., saying "dinosaur" when they mean "lunch". More and more words get replaced, until other people's speech becomes complete gibberish to him. He ends up having to re-learn the meaning of words out of a children's book.
  • In House M.D., House once had a patient with a form of aphasia who replaced every word with a word somehow related to but separate from what he meant. The connections were fuzzy enough that they got him to correctly say yes and no, and finally figured out that when he said "bear" he meant "bipolar", as in "polar bear". This makes it a Curse of Babel plot.
  • In "Bargaining," the first episode of Season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Buffybot's punning still isn't working properly. When she finally stakes the vamp, she exclaims, "That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo!" Perhaps it was stuck on dadaist humor.
  • The 456 from Torchwood: Children of Earth seem to have shades of this in the beginning. They speak in a way that is intelligible but reinforces their creepiness. The civil servant who deals with them is suitably freaked.
    The 456: Speak.
    Frobisher: I am speaking!
    The 456: We would speak.
    The 456: Soon.
    Frobisher: I'm sorry?
    The 456: Return...soon.
  • In an episode of Titus, Christopher knows Erin is hiding something because, when she's lying, words not flow from her mouth good.
    Erin Fitzpatrick: Hey! Car drive not work me, everything think that solves you?
    Christopher Titus: (pause) Something from me hiding you are?
  • In Doctor Who, the alien Chantho begins every sentence with Chan, and ends it with Tho. Apparently, to not do this is rude, the equivalent of swearing in her language. (Compare Japanese use of keigo words such as desu or -masu.)
    • This also means that she says her name as "Chan-Chantho-Tho".
  • Michael Harris in Newhart speaks in alliteration.
  • O'Neill from Stargate SG-1 does this the second time he has the Ancients' knowledge downloaded into his brain. Subverted in that he does it just to make fun of Daniel's lack of clarity when trying to explain what Jack has been doing.
    Daniel: Sphere. Planet. Label. Name.
    Jack: Following. You. Still. Not.

    Music 
  • Eric Idle's Rutland Weekend Television had the host of a short chat show and his guest talking like this.
    Host: Ham sandwich bucket and water plastic duralegs rubber mac fisheries underwear?

    Theatre 
  • Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth by Tom Stoppard features a language consisting of the same words as English, but with different meanings (so that, for instance, "useless" means afternoon, and "afternoon" means something dreadfully insulting). Stoppard got the idea from an essay by the philosopher Wittgenstein, who pointed out that in such a circumstance, two people might interact without ever realising that they're speaking two different languages, and illustrated with a hypothetical conversation that gets reprised in the first act of the play.
  • In How I Became Stupid by Martin Page, the supporting character Aas can speak only in verse—this is stated to be the result of his being used to test an experimental babyfood containing high levels of phosphorous. It also made him nearly eight feet tall and causes him to glow faintly in the dark.

    Video Games 
  • The Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri Expansion Pack Alien Crossfire gives us Progenitors, who toe the line between this and Aliens Speaking English due to Translation Convention. Alien-to-alien speech is rendered as normal, fluent language. However, alien-to-human communication is impossible until you research a tech which allows in-universe translation, which renders Progenitor speech with a syntax roughly equal to "Subject: Statement".
    Humans : there is no space inside rocket. Progenitor : space exists around all things with mass. Space : "here". Inside rocket : "there". Secret: bring here to there.
    • The Rikti in City of Heroes speak like this as well. They are a race of telepaths and it is only late in the game during certain missions that one gets the new Mark III translator and can not only suddenly speak English properly, but can now understand it just as well. He finds our childish vulgarities rather quaint.
    • Star Control's Daktaklakpak provide a similar challenge — their language is so mathematical and formulaic that initially the tech teams don't even think they're sentient. Once you obtain a translator their speech remains formulaic and stilted: "Statement: Daktaklakpak are superior to Humans. Interrogation: What are Humans doing in our space?"
  • The Orz from Star Control 2 have thought processes so alien that the best translators cannot fully process their language. Translations end up using a combination of best guesses and mixed metaphors for the unknown words.
    "They are *camping* in this *playground* and would definitely like to *play* with *friendlies!*"
    • More relevantly, their lines use very idiosyncratic grammar.
  • The player character in Knights of the Old Republic can speak almost every alien language, so you get subtitles even for what the Jawas on Tatooine are saying. Nevertheless, even subtitled, their syntax is rather strange.
  • G-man from Half-Life places emphasis on unusual syllables and pauses for breath in all the wrong places, though his diction is perfect and his vowels are never mispronounced. All of this is used to suggest that he's some sort of Eldritch Abomination making a less-than-perfect imitation of humanity.
    • The Vortigaunts on the other hand, pronounce words fairly clearly but use strange word ordering and exhibit a few quirks such as placing "the" in front of someone's name. When speaking in their own language, both participants speak simultaneously, so they also step on the ends of each other's sentences in English every now and then.
  • In Sonic Chronicles The Dark Brotherhood, the Kron speak in a strange, slightly garbled format, saying things like "Die you now!" You can ask them about it, at which point they'll maintain that they're speaking perfectly normal English and you're the ones saying it wrong.
  • Mass Effect:
    • A minor alien species, the elcor, exhibit a form of this. They all speak in a deep monotone, and preface their sentences with the tone it would be in, e.g. "genuine enthusiasm," followed by a sentence with no noticeable enthusiasm. They talk like that with non-elcor because they express emotion through pheromones, subsonics, and extremely subtle body language that most other species can't detect. It's implied that the rendering of the emotional prefix statement is due to the Translator Microbes, as when a certain elcor is asked by his asari colleague if he had hacked his translator unit in order to speak exactly how he wants, he replies, in an utter monotone, with: "With a sincerity such that scepticism would be deeply insulting: ...no."
      • This is similar to how HK-47 and the HK-50 models talk in the Knights of the Old Republic games. However, unlike the elcor, they are perfectly capable of modulating their speech synthesizers to add inflection, making prefixes like "Annoyed statement: I would greatly prefer blasting them, master, but you are the master," mostly unnecessary but funny.
    • Another example would by the hanar, who cannot speak as humans do at all; their translators/synthesizers render their bioluminescent language into spoken words. Either for this reason or some quirk of culture, all their translated speech is exceedingly polite, avoids reference to personal pronouns like "I" and they will rarely use their names unless introducing themselves, preferring "it" or "this one", i.e. "This one hopes that we will converse again soon." They have two names, in fact; a Face Name (for public use) and a Soul Name (for family and very close friends).
    • Though really combination of Terse Talker and Motor Mouth, Mordin Solus verges into this due to combination of elided speech and Techno Babble.
  • The Dangling Participle in King's Quest VI.
  • Thorn of Final Fantasy IX uses inverted sentences, like Yoda (and usually says the same thing Zorn says, except Zorn doesn't invert them.)
  • The Emps from Ultima VII; passive voice seems to be what is always used by them.
    "Your wish is to meet wisps? An idea how you can be helped by Trellek is had by me. Wisps are contacted by Trellek's whistling. A whistle for you can be made by him, perhaps. Talking with him again should be your next action."
    • Also, the gargoyles, who drop pronouns and only use infinitive-form verbs. At one point in U7, it is mentioned that they speak in "Gargish syntax" to preserve their cultural ties.
      "To be named Horffe. To be the Captain of the guard. To serve and protect the people of Serpent's Hold."
  • Nya! Of Super Mario RPG, both this and a regular Verbal Tic, Bowyer uses. Nya!
  • Similarly, Fawful of the Mario & Luigi series has this practically programmed into the speech center of his brain...
    "IT IS THE OVERHEAT!"
  • Fnarf of The Bard's Tale had a tendency to speak with alliteration.
    The Bard: I've had just about enough of these atrocious alliterative announcements... Now I'm doing it!
  • The Chiss bartender Baldarek on Nar Shaddaa in Star Wars: Jedi Outcast has problems speaking Basic and constantly confuses singular and plural nouns.
    Baldarek: (Kyle Katarn holding a lightsaber to his face) Please! Noble Jedis! Not in the faces!
    • This is not typical of Chiss, though, as Thrawn has no problems speaking Basic at all. Then again, he is specifically mentioned to be good at languages (he speaks Basic fluently after studying for a few weeks), and is a genius in general.
  • The people of Xian (a Fantasy Counterpart Culture version of China) in Golden Sun use some strange sentence structures (though not nearly as strange as some fanfic writers portray it), presumably to show that they normally speak a different language from the heroes. This is present even in the Japanese versions, as references to it are made in the 4koma Gag Battle doujinshi.
    • Curiously, Xian's successor-nations in Dark Dawn are filled with people who speak normally.
  • The Great Mizuti from the first Baten Kaitos not only speaks in the third person, insisting on being called "the Great Mizuti," rarely conjugates "to be" (i.e. "the Great Mizuti be invincible!") and will occasionally string together two related words after the end of a sentence.
  • Gree droids from Star Wars: The Old Republic speak Basic, but with bizarre turns of phrase.
    Nam-aK: My black sphere evolves to a purple parallel because of you. When I impart this development, Pat-aK will progress enthusiasm with the Senator.
  • If the winquotes in Street Fighter X Tekken are any indication (since the crossover retains the characters' usual behaviors), this is Yoshimitsu's usual speech pattern.
  • Zer0 of Borderlands 2 has a weird habit of speaking in Haikus. While he mostly uses it for combat taunts, even his idle dialog is in haikus.
  • In the English translations of the latest Pokémon games, International Police Agent Looker speaks with weird syntax, suggesting that his native tongue is not the local language in Sinnoh or Unova; he averts this in Kalos, giving us a likely candidate for his native region. This is not present in the Japanese versions.
    • In Pokémon Gold and Silver and the remakes, there was a Team Rocket member who spoke this way and said that he would quit Team Rocket and return to his homeland and family. In Black and White (and the sequels), you find him in Unova with his family... and he still does the weird syntax. Apparently he's not actually Eloquent In My Native Tongue.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, some of the demons you can talk to will speak this way.

    Web Comics 
  • Terror Island applies alliteration when flaunting flashbacks.
  • In Neurotically Yours, the character Piltz-E the squirrel speaks in this manner.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, the space station manager Mister Aliss speaks in a very odd dialect characterized by using a lot of unnecessary "-ings", poor understanding of metaphors, and painfully arranged grammar (example: "You suspect? What is of the suspectings?"). From that Tagon identifies him (wrongly) as a part of a class of diplomats raised underwater among the Celeschul native species who grew up speaking Galstandard Peroxide, the preferred language of aquatic sophonts.
  • Starslip: after a conversation with Mr. Jinx about how laughably simple human languages are, a fellow Cirbozoid speaks with total disregard for word order.
  • Lacey from A Path To Greater Good. Later subverted when he no longer has to impress people and speaks normally instead.
  • In The Order of the Stick, orcs (and half-orcs) seem to always refer to themselves in the third person, pay no heed to verbal conjugation, skip copulas and use lower-case everywhere until...:
    Mungu: mungu rather finish grammar lesson for today.
    Crong: yes, crong hope crong get to verbal conjugation before end of week.
    Gok: gok look forward to first-person pronouns.
    Mungu: capital letters intrigue mungu.
  • In Outsider, the insectoid Umiak's speech is translated in a rambling manner with several redundancies, an artifact of the Umiak language's stack construct.
    Kikitik-27-Tikhak-Tikkukit: Abnormality it is communication with [The Enemy Forces] when the situation is shown to be abnormal by [The Storm-Witch] known to us that does not retreat when attacked which is abnormal and the existence of [The Object In Question] that cannot be obtained by direct action which is abnormal... We do not expect success of communication however there is nothing to be lost by communication when the time becomes irrevocable as it has...
  • Ars and the other imps, a small dragonic species, from Gaia always speak in third-person, future tense.
  • Vodka from Every Button Hurts the Other Guy has a poor (and inconsistent) grasp of English syntax, but is exceptional in this despite his being from a comic with an international cast. Russel sometimes gets in on this too, which is especially odd considering he's one of the few native English speakers.

    Web Original 
  • In the Dwarf Fortress Let's Play Bravemule, this is the way all of the dwarves talk, in order to cement the impression that they are a totally different culture. It's combined with alien terminology, for example "elf" seems to stand for everything that is an enemy or related to such, "dreg" would be a pariah and "clod" a non-pariah dwarf.
    13th Obsidian 1054
    I am struck with fond recollections before the end. I remember the child I was and the arthavers I hailed in the mountainhome. It was engraved images from disciplined hands that endured on warm walls.

    14th Obsidian 1054
    Hollowed around the deep caverns to avoid cave elves. A trail of broken mudstone is behind and above. I do not know how deep the tunnel to the underworld must become or the name I will give for the tunnel.

    15th Obsidian 1054
    Oh that unscrupulous cat! It does not understand we will die.
  • In Starpocalypse, God is mocked for this.
    God: "I am who am!"
    Science Councilor: "Ha! More like "I am he who doesn't understand syntax"."

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Sonic Sat AM, the wizard Lazar speaks similarly to Yoda, reversing nouns and verbs.
  • As established in Transformers: The Movie, Junkions on the television series speak in odd mishmashes of television quotes.
    Wreck-Gar: "You are in danger of being cancelled or losing your time slot!"
    Ultra Magnus: "What'd he say?!"
    Rodimus Prime: "We're gonna get killed."
  • Ed on Ed, Edd n Eddy was known for this.
    Eddy: Hey, where's Double D?
    Ed: Do not adjust your set! (runs after Edd)
    • In Ed's case, it's less that he uses a strange syntax and more that he's a Cloudcuckoolander and borderline idiot who has his brain rotted from too much TV.
    • Rolf, having immigrated from somewhere vaguely in Eastern Europe, typically has his speech peppered with a series of culturalisms that may or may not even make sense in his native land. Occasionally though, he speaks sentences that are grammatically correct but so awkwardly worded (usually with a complete lack of pronouns, or redundant words that would typically get skipped) that they make little sense to a casual listener, such as this instance where he saw Eddie plummeting at them in a suit of armor made from an old pot-bellied stove.
    Rolf: Rolf's eyes fool the brain of Rolf!
    Kevin: What are you talking about, dude?
    Rolf: "Rolf's eyes fool the brain of Rolf", must I spell it?
  • The Kraang in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) have a manner of speaking that defies any real explanation. Just have some examples:
    Kraang 1: Kraang, are those who are coming to this place coming to this place?
    Kraang 2: I like that knowledge, Kraang. I will inquire of Kraang about that knowledge. (turns to other Kraangs) Do you have the knowledge if those coming to this place are near this place, Kraang?
    Snake: THEY'RE TURTLES!!! Call them Turtles! "Are the Turtles here?!"
    Kraang 3: There are lights of a vehicle which contain that what you wish us to call "The Turtles" coming to this place which you wish us to call "here".

    Real Life 

"Milwaukeese." In some parts of Wisconsin, people will speak English using German syntax. Examples:

"Tie the dog loose and let him run the alley down." "Make out (or on) the light." Throwing a random 'once' into the sentence. Using 'by' in place of any 'preposition of spatial relation'. "Come down by my house, where the streetcar bends the corner 'round, and whistle me out once so my Momma can see who I hang by."


Give grace that the examples ended the trope's strange self-demonstrating direction...


Spice Up the SubtitlesTranslation TropesSwitch to English
Purple Is PowerfulImageSource/Star WarsUnlimited Wardrobe
Story Breaker PowerSpeculative Fiction TropesStraw Vulcan
Sound OffSelf-Demonstrating ArticleSpeech Bubbles
Min-MaxingImageSource/Web ComicsDawn of Time
Stealth PunLanguage TropesStutter Stop
Strange SaluteAdded Alliterative AppealStranger Safety
Stop Saying That!DialogueStupid Question Bait

alternative title(s): Yoda Speak
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
75294
4