It seems like all interfaces are video and using pictographs. The very little text we see is things like RED or BnL which perhaps are more recognized as symbols than really read — I think that's referred to as functionally illiterate. And consider the pictographic nature of the credit sequence which resembles things like cave paintings where the history of people is being described with pictures rather than with words.

2 Answers 2



Children are taught English (of a sort) by Nanny-bots

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And the Captain is clearly reading aloud (albeit with some difficulty) from his display screen

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and directly from Manuel, this time with more confidence

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The script notes that the Captain isn't simply working out the text from contextual clues (e.g. the pictures)

The transmission ends. The Captain examines the manual. Holds it out in front of him.

CAPTAIN: (reads; to himself) Operate... Manuel...

and the film's official novelisation gives us an indication of the state of literacy on the ship

Auto took the manual, opened it, and returned it to the Captain.

“Oh ... will you look at that!” the Captain said. It had been a long time since he had read more than a simple line or two on a video screen. It had been even longer since any human had picked up a book and actually read it. “Oooh, that’s a lot of words!”

Wall-E: Official Junior Novelisation

  • 21
    @AnkitSharma - I use a tool called licecap to capture them from my screen.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 12:32
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    What a horrid name for a useful program!
    – JRE
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 12:41
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    @JRE - It's named for the opensource engine it uses (Lightweight Image Composition Engine).
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 12:49
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    That all being said, maybe the Captain was made captain because he's the best reader on the ship.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 13:06
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    To be fair, I'd have trouble with the word "septuacentennial" too, if I didn't know it was coming. Not really something you use in everyday conversation. Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 19:49

It's likely that they were literate, but their luxury life on the Axiom had made them simple. We know that they've at least been taught for the scene where the babies are being read and shown the alphabet by the robotic teacher. They probably just never exercised their literacy as what they seem to be doing the most is simply talking.

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