56

Near the end of the film - as Ronan's ship, The Dark Aster, crashes to the ground - Groot creates a protective cocoon for the rest of the team. It all gets very emotional and Groot says:

We are Groot!

As far as I was aware all he can say is "I am Groot". How is he able to do this?


I've seen this related question that covers his background and that he used to be able to speak quite a bit. This question is more about how "this" Groot can say "We are Groot" when he usually only ever says "I am Groot".

  • 2
    "when he usually" those are the key words. As mentioned in the question you referenced, historically, Groot was able to speak with a larger vocabulary. It's unclear right now just how large of a vocabulary he actually has, or why. – phantom42 May 30 '17 at 15:38
  • 1
    @phantom42 Historically, and in a different universe I believe, so not necessarily the case now and in this universe. – TheLethalCarrot May 30 '17 at 15:42
  • 1
    Narrative imperative. – AJFaraday May 31 '17 at 10:06
  • 3
    He grew. (runs and ducks) – T.E.D. May 31 '17 at 14:33
82

In the MCU

No idea. We don't have any info on Groot's species, other than that he's a "Humanoid Plant Inhabitant" from the planet Taluhnia. We can't say that Groot is representative of his species until we encounter another one.

In the comics

All Flora Colossi sound like they're saying "I am Groot" to an English-Speaking human because of their stiff larynxes. Those who pick up on the subtle nuances of their language, such as Rocket, can actually understand what they're really saying.

From this info, we can discern that in the Guardians movie, when Groot says "We are Groot", he's actually putting in a lot of effort to form the words "we" and "are", much like you'd strain your voice if you tried to sing a really high or low note. I imagine it was actually quite painful to say.

  • 61
    Probably less painful than what came next though... – TheLethalCarrot May 30 '17 at 15:47
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    I dunno, seemed like it was fairly quick – DisturbedNeo May 30 '17 at 15:48
11

I would like to speculate on how Groot might be

putting in a lot of effort to form the words "we" and "are"

As DisturbedNeo said.

Let us take "I am Groot" and look at its phonetics (Using IPA):

 I   am  groot
[aj  æm  grut]

Let us see what we need to form "We are Groot"

 We are groot
[wi ar  grut]

Now, word by word, from easy to hard:

  • "Groot" ([grut]) is trivial, since that part didn't change.
  • "Are" ([ar]): take [a] from I ([aj]) and r from "Groot" ([grut])
  • "We" ([wi]): we can't form it. We can approximate with [uj] using [u] from "Groot" ([grut]) and [j] fom "I" ([aj]).

By the way [uj] is the sound of the hungarian word "ujj" which will sound like "we" to the untrained ear.

Also this won't work for the movie in another language other than English.

  • I like this answer one thing troubles me though is that the two rs are not the same sound. The one in "Groot" is more of a re and the one in "are" is more of a R. So I don't think moving them around like that really works. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 1 '17 at 8:04
  • @TheLethalCoder Not to mention that there's no reason to assume Groot is actually saying his "I am Groot" in English. That's just the translation convention - he's really speaking some "Galactic Common" language or whatever, localised for the viewer's comfort. For all we know, the difference between "I am" and "We are" is minuscule in whatever language they're using. – Luaan Jun 1 '17 at 8:10
  • @Luaan Is there any difference between English and Galactic Common though? Or is that just the in-universe name for it? – TheLethalCarrot Jun 1 '17 at 8:11
  • @TheLethalCoder Realistically, it would be rather convenient and improbable for the common galactic language to be English. I don't know if this was ever addressed in the Marvel universes specifically - it's just a very common convention in most fiction, including historical fiction (e.g. you don't want to read the story about 9th century Franks where everyone speaks their own language, do you?). Unless English developed under the influence of the galactic languages (unlikely), there's no way it would just happen to be the same as whatever language Gamorra and Groot use. – Luaan Jun 1 '17 at 9:32
  • @TheLethalCoder As I said, this only works in English. As far as I know it hasn't been addressed whatever or not the characters are actually speaking something else. And I doubt it will. Regarding the [r], I am using IPA, which is meant to capture those differences. There is a chance that the IPA for "groot" is wrong. Although every IPA transcription tool I have access to agrees it is [r], they only differ on long or short [u] which seems to depend on whatever it is British or American English. – Theraot Jun 1 '17 at 16:22
5

Law of Dramatic Necessity

It was an emotional scene demonstrating the character relationships we saw grow throughout the film.

This is similar to: How do characters break mind control or telekinetic holds by concentrating really hard? The mechanism is unimportant, and almost never explained.

I rather like thinking he always could talk, but just couldn't be bothered to say anything else, unless it was really important.

  • 9
    Cool your jets there @Edlothiad and let's agree to disagree. I'm honestly curious what you find "nonsensical" about my out-of-universe answer. OP just asked "How" - and I provided a perfectly reasonable explanation for the scene. I contend It was done for the effect on the audience and not as a consequence of anything specific to Groot's in-universe species. So the "How" is "by the power of story." The current top answer (which I happen to agree with) starts "In the MCU -No idea." and points out we know nothing about his species. Please explain why you feel this is "nonsensical." – JesseM May 31 '17 at 4:39
  • 4
    I think it's valuable for there to be a reality check here and there (when appropriate). e.g. "it doesn't make sense in the universe, it was a lore break for cinematic purposes, and any explanations will be backpedalling to fit it in" Small inconsistencies can have a disproportionate effect on the immersion, and sometimes accepting that they don't fit can help you appreciate the rest of the story. – Samthere May 31 '17 at 9:44
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    It's not even an out-of-universe answer IMO. An OoU answer would be something like a quote from an interview, or a tweet from an official source or something. This is (likely accurate) speculation. – DisturbedNeo May 31 '17 at 10:17
3

In the comic Groot (2015) #2 the following dialog occurs between Rocket and Groot.

Setup - Up until this point, Rocket has not been able to understand Groot, they are in prison together. Having outsmarted the guards previously they are in their cell when the lights go out. The guards they embarrassed then show up.

Guard (off panel):Security cams wont be on for a few seconds

Guard: Plenty of time to teach you a lesson

Groot: I am Groot!

Rocket: Good idea! I'll take the big guy! Wait what?

Groot: I am Groot?

Rocket: I did...yeah

Groot: I am Groot!

Rocket: Just now!

Groot: I am Groot?

Rocket: No idea!

From that point on he understands Groot's meaning. He seems to have started understanding him without actively trying to learn to do so, and suddenly.

So I think Hurkyl's explanation may be the correct one. They had come to understand Groot. But this isn't definite, it could also be that he was able to speak those words, somehow.

  • 2
    Sharing a link to a website isn't violating copyright (regardless of what copyright lawyers tell you). Since you're not distributing the content (which is what copyright is about), you're not violating any laws. Besides, a link to an official website, definetly fall under fair use. – Clearer Jun 1 '17 at 8:43
  • I know it's not something I could be sued for. I shouldn't have said "can't" really it's that I didn't want to share it without permission. But I found a link on Marvel's website, so that would be with permission. I'm adding it to the answer. – Paul S Jun 1 '17 at 16:54
1

An explanation I've seen posited is that, that scene doesn't depict the actual sounds that came out of his mouth: instead, the scene is depicting that the others were able to understand them.

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