Brow Beat

New Star Wars: Episode VIII Title Raises the Galaxy’s Largest “Singular or Plural?” Question

Disney announced the official title of Star Wars: Episode VIII this morning, and it seems unlikely to provoke as many snickers as The Force Awakens:

Instead, the title seems likely to mark the return of one of the Star Wars universe’s oldest debates: What is the plural of Jedi? Many dictionaries accept both Jedi and Jedis for the plural, and there are plenty of instances of characters in the films using Jedi as a plural noun. (See, e.g., Yoda, who—though his approach to grammar is undoubtedly unconventional—calls arrogance “a flaw more and more common among Jedi.”)

The question, then, is are we talking about one last Jedi, or more? If it’s just one, The Last Jedi could refer to Luke, for example, or it could refer to Rey, implying that Luke is going to die. If The Last Jedi is plural, on the other hand, it could refer to Luke and Rey, or it could refer to a whole bunch of “last Jedi”: Leia? Finn? A redeemed Kylo Ren? BB-8?!

There is some precedent for this kind of ambiguity. In the titles of Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith, Jedi and Sith could be taken as either singular or plural, leading to different interpretations. (And I should also note that while there is a Star Wars novel called The Last Jedi, it seems unlikely to have any relation to the upcoming movie, given that the book is not about Rey or Luke or Leia or any of the other Skywalkers.)

In sum, while no one should base their expectations for a movie on its title (even The Phantom Menace, it should be said, isn’t bad), this one both raises intriguing questions and sets itself up for what could be a satisfying payoff. As William Shakespeare once said, “Good title.”