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In the 2007 movie, Optimus explains that the Autobots learned to speak English from the world wide web. One could reasonably assume that the Decepticons did as well.

But Megatron wakes up after being trapped in stasis within the ice and says, "I am Megatron!" and then goes outside and speaks with Starscream in English.

There is at least one scene where the Decepticons (Starscream, I believe) speak in Cybertronian and they display English subtitles, but they don't do that with Megatron.

Megatron speaks to Sam in English as well, so it's not just a matter of languages being translated for the ease of the viewer following along.

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    I'd guess this is just a plot hole. Wouldn't be the only one. – FishBasketGordo Mar 9 '12 at 19:14
  • Very likely, but I know a number of things were expanded upon in the tie-in comics and wasn't sure if this was one of them. – phantom42 Mar 9 '12 at 19:21
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    Ratchet explains in the alley that Bumblebee's voice circuitry had been damaged prior to their mission on Earth and he had not been able to finish repairing it. The comics apparently explained that his voice circuitry had been crushed - I think by Megatron. The bigger issue there is that that's all well and good for TF1, but it's repaired at the end and his voice is coincidentally damaged again for TF2/3. – phantom42 Mar 9 '12 at 20:03
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    @gnovice - BB had his speech circuitry damaged during a previous battle with the Decepts, so even possessing the knowledge of English he had no way of processing it. The real inconsistency (in a franchise chock full of them) is why he goes back to radio speech after apparently getting that fixed in the end of the first movie. – System Down Mar 9 '12 at 20:06
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    It's because he's Megatron. He's bad ass. – BBlake Mar 9 '12 at 21:19
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This is simple supposition, but I would imagine that the language could be communicated fairly easily from Starscream(or another Decepticon) to Megatron. These are advanced machines, it isn't like he has to put his spectacles on and sit down with a copy of English for Dummies, he should be able to just download the language files from another.

This doesn't necessarily explain why he immediately does this and speaks English to Starscream, but that particular instance could be explained by your last statement (ease of use for the viewer following along).

  • +1, He spoke in English so the humans watching the movie could understand. Remember not everyone in the audiance will know about transformers, they have to make concessions to new viwers. – Arjang Mar 14 '12 at 10:44
  • But they show the Decepticons communicating in Cybertronian with subtitles elsewhere in the film. If they're just making it easier for viewers, why not translate then? And how would Sam understand him perfectly? – phantom42 Mar 14 '12 at 11:18
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    @phantom42 Movies tend to do this, and it is usually very inconsistent. Inglorious Basterds comes to mind, where they subtitle certain sections of the movie, notably where a character who doesn't understand the language is present, but in other sections when they clearly should be speaking a foreign language they speak English. Usually the subtitles serve to show the viewer "Hey look they are aliens speaking a different language, OK now that we have established that we are going to switch back to English OK? Just remember...its not English wink" – NominSim Mar 14 '12 at 12:59
  • I cant recall any point in IG that they weren't speaking in their native tongue or the character did not specifically say they would switch to English for their own comfort. Iirc even in the first scene he says his French sucks so he was going to use English. A concession for viewers in reality, but at least it was explained. – phantom42 Mar 14 '12 at 18:46
  • @phantom42 Sorry you're right, I mistook a scene when the characters were speaking French for an English one. However the sort of thing I described does happen a lot in movies. – NominSim Mar 15 '12 at 1:13
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Its plausible that while frozen he was still partially aware of what was happening around him for a few decades. He could have learned English from those around him.

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Maybe my memory tricks me here, but wasn't Megatron on his way to earth before he got caught in stasis? Therefore it should be possible for him to listen to the overall radio signals coming from the earth and learn English while he was on the way.

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    They said they carbon dated the Allspark as having arrived in roughly 10,000 BC. They implied, but never explicitly stated that Megatron had crashed not too long after. Megatron was found in by Archibald Witwicky in 1897. The first long distance/high powered radio transmission was made by Guglielmo Marconi in 1901. – phantom42 Mar 14 '12 at 11:27
  • Well, I did not think about that, nevermind than. – Michael K Mar 14 '12 at 11:29
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Maybe when Frenzy was hacking into the computer, Megatron could've picked up various traces of English through other receptors which then did an incredibly quick search through English dialouge because Megatron was built different to other transformers as a gladiator so he might have a slightly better learning systems or he picked up the English when he heard Cpt. Witwicky and his crew because, as we see, he is not completely deactivated because he burns the map of the allspark on his glasses which may be son explanation for it, he doesn't speak many English words anyway so his English knowledge seems to be quite basic at first

  • On this site, we prefer answers with references. Do you have a source for this? - From Review – Mithrandir Jan 12 '16 at 16:48

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