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Initial revision by user avatar wetcircuit · 2019-12-08T12:20:05Z (7 months ago)
> Does creating a conlang but not using it actually have the positive effects suggested…?


## The obligatory Star Wars reference

The character Yoda from **The Empire Strikes Back** has a distinctive manner of speaking. He swaps the parts of his sentences around so the subject and verb come at the end. There were probably specific rules to his manner-of-speech, but nearly every person alive knows how to **make fun of Yoda** by saying the end of a sentence first so it sounds mockingly _pseudo-profound_.

Emphasis on "pseudo".

I've read this was originally done to show that he is thinking in another more formal language – that's a nice worldbuild-y excuse **if it was supported by anything in the story**. We never meet other "Yodas", we know nothing about Yoda's language, his home planet, his people or culture. That excuse is a ret-con lie. **There is no worldbuilding there.**

(No, the books are not canon, Star Wars is a pastiche of old movies and Hollywood trope subversions.)

## Worldbuilding vs Narrative

**Yoda the puppet** is a wonderful subversion of a mentor character created at the peak of the Muppets "dark fantasy" phase. He works _narratively_ because he is presented as one thing (a silly harmless creature who steals Luke's hotdog) before he is revealed to be the wise and powerful mentor.

It's exactly the sort of test that Luke would fail. Yoda is _showing_ us that Luke doesn't have a heroic personality, he's too impatient to get back to adventure to realize the only other person on the planet is the mentor he's seeking. Yoda will tell us this too, repeatedly, which we all dismiss as Yoda being a jerk because words are meaningless if the story shows us something different. Luke blew up the Deathstar, he's already a hero, right?

Yoda is a clever _narrative_ element, not in his worldbuilding and esoteric con-language **which we never actually hear** , but in the way he's introduced, and the dichotomy of his character design – he's not the mentor the audience expects either. We're just as unworthy as Luke.

Once Yoda turns and he starts speaking slowly and deliberately, the same errors in his speech change from pidgin to profound. He switches from "coolie" (hello, Jar-Jar Binks) to Kung Fu Master in an instant, and it works because Luke has seen the same movies we all have, so he recognizes the 2 (male) East Asian stereotypes that are allowed in whiteguy entitlement fantasies. Yoda is not actually "deep", he's a bait-and-switch.

That exact same mentor character – without the genius of Muppets and Lawrence Kasdan – is Qui-Gon Jinn, a whiteguy in a yellowface role with an exotica name who spouts mystic gobbledygook and drags down the pace by being boring AF. He has no character arc, his motives are non-sensical (as convenient), he isn't cool. He's just another racist trope plucked from the leftovers of bad Hollywood that George Lucas grew up on. He's a cliché ripped from Kung Fu movies, if not the _specific_ character _Kwai Chang Caine_ from the TV show **Kung Fu**.

Yoda becomes "cool" because he transforms from Jar-Jar Binks into Qui-Gon Jinn. Without that _narrative_ plot twist we clearly see those same characters alone are embarrassing throwbacks from someone else's childhood. Yoda's transformation happens _in the story_, in front of our eyes, and in a way that surprises us and makes us empathetic to the protagonist. **That's Narrative.**

## Stop worldbuilding and write the Story

Worldbuilding isn't writing, it's ego. It's self-flattery. [It's a trap.]( Worldbuilding is a false sense that We are creating something deep – so deep that the readers won't even see but a tiny part of it – the tippy-top of the iceberg that peeks out of the deepest ocean.

No, that's not creation, it's masterbation. It's regurgitation of tropes and clichés, like ketchup on fishsticks. Like the Star Wars prequels. We are claiming that We are going to create something fantastically detailed and profound, but we're only going to show the reader a tiny hint of it. The reader will "fill in" with a lot of assumptions about Our world that are just as deep as We are. In otherwords We are going to give the reader _nothing_ and they will do all the work imagining what's under the water, and recognize Us as a genius.

It doesn't work like that. A writer actually has to create something and then communicate it, word-for-word, page-by-page, to someone else. That's what writing is. **All stories require the reader to fill in the blanks.** All character descriptions are shorthand for the things your aren't saying. All readers use _stock characters_ and _simplistic tropes_ until we show them something else, something they didn't expect. Storytelling is not a new artform. The only way to convince a reader that our ideas are actually cool is through an interesting narrative. **Story turns Jar-Jar and Qui-gon into Yoda.**

**We all love worldbuilding.** For most of us it is a happy refuge where we get to suspend the mundane and float free in the _potential_ of our imagination, but if it doesn't end up on the page it wasn't real and it wasn't writing. Yes, it's great to think and worldbuild, then step back from it to tell the story, but no this will not come across to the reader. Yoda is cool because the story makes him cool, but that "worldbuild-y" thing about the way Yoda speaks is the joke that everyone makes fun of.

Attribution notice added by user avatar System · 2019-12-08T12:20:05Z (7 months ago)
License name: CC BY-SA 3.0
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Imported from external source by user avatar System · 2019-06-28T12:29:34Z (about 1 year ago)
Original score: 1