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Star Wars Language Integrated Into Everyday English, Study Finds

Research shows words like 'Jedi' and 'lightsaber' are as common as general vocabulary words

The language of Star Wars has become part of everyday English, according to a new study.

The word ‘Jedi’ is used as often as words like ‘jewel’ and ‘dizzy’, new research shows.

A team of linguistics experts investigated how often vocabulary from the series appears in our everyday lives, looking at words such as ‘Jedi’, ‘lightsaber’, ‘Yoda’, and ‘Padawan’.

And in more than a third of uses of Star Wars words, there is no direct reference to the film franchise at all.

Christina Sanchez-Stockhammer, a professor in English and Linguistics at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München carried out the study, published in the journal Linguistics Vanguard.

Sanchez-Stockhammer, said: “Words from Star Wars have reached the highest level of integration into the English language.”

She added that all of the words used in the study already appear in the Oxford English Dictionary.

One example was that the word ‘jedi’ occurs more than four times per million words, meaning it is as common as general vocabulary words like “jewel” or “dizzy”.

There were also phrases such as going to ‘the dark side’ or even in one example “I’m afraid of his sensual powers. Ryan, the man is a sexual Jedi”.

Whilst some catchphrases such as Dr. Spock’s “Live long and prosper” from Star Trek or Homer Simpson’s “D’oh” have entered the language, they are attached to a particular character.

But it is rarer for general words to enter the language of their own with no prior knowledge of their origin.

One such example is the phrase ‘mini-me’ which originated in the Austin Powers films.

She added: “Star Wars has become such an important part of popular culture that things like Yoda’s role as a mentor or the appearance of lightsabers can be assumed to be familiar to large sections of the population and thus form the basis for innovative language uses,

“The example of ‘lightsaber’ shows that Star Wars is now even somehow part of our physical reality.

“Most uses of the word refer to tangible toy lightsabers, for example, ‘I have my lightsaber and my sci-fi toys’.”

The language of Star Wars has become part of everyday English, according to a new study. OTTO RASCON/PEXELS

The study also highlights the prevalence of the phrase “to the dark side” in the English language, particularly when combined with the verb “cross over”, as this is a construction used in the franchise to represent someone joining the side of the villains.

Sanchez-Stockhammer explained: “While light and darkness were already used as metaphors for good and evil before the Star Wars films, none of the earlier sources in the corpus of historical American English employs the construction ‘to the dark side’ in the Star Wars sense, e.g., to express a change to a state evaluated as more immoral by the speakers.

“It thus appears that innovative uses like ‘a developer crosses over to the dark side and learns marketing’ are yet another instance where the Star Wars franchise has left its mark on the English language.

The language of Star Wars has become part of everyday English, according to a new study. DIN DJARIN/UNSPLASH

“We can therefore conclude from the corpus study that Star Wars has not only had an important and still ongoing impact on popular culture but also on the English language, in the sense that a substantial number of words and constructions from a galaxy far, far away have already become an established part of the English vocabulary.”


Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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