In the 2018 Bumblebee movie, Bumblebee speaks English to John Cena's character as soon as he arrives on Earth in 1987. But how does he know English?

In the original live action Transformers from 2007, Optimus Prime explains that the Autobots learned English from the "World-Wide Web." But in 1987 there was no World-Wide Web to monitor. So how can Bumblebee speak perfect English?

  • Just as a note, there are many, many contradictions between the events shown in Bumblebee and the rest of the live-action Transformers movies. It completely retcons Bumblebee and the rest of the Autobots participating in World War II, there is no indication that Megatron or the Allspark were already on Earth, and the circumstances surrounding Bumblebee losing his voice are significantly different, among other things. While your question of how he learned English is reasonable, I wouldn't look to the other live-action movies for explanations.
    – Kyle Doyle
    Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 18:20
  • But of course it speaks English! Don't you know that everyone speaks English? tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AliensSpeakingEnglish
    – DavidW
    Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 18:29
  • Should the 2018 movie be classed as a reboot? Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 18:37
  • It is a reboot...
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 18:37
  • "“Since we were approaching this as an origin story, we felt that it was appropriate that you got to hear his voice,” di Bonaventura said of the character who thus far has only been able to communicate using existing media. “That’s the simple logic that we employed. The longer term implication of that is different. But the short-term implication of that is, since we really are resetting the mythology, essentially, of who Bumblebee is. And so, that seemed to us to be the appropriate, to get the chance to hear what he sounds like.”" - collider.com/bumblebee-speaking-voice-dylan-obrien
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 18:49

1 Answer 1


Bumblebee demonstrates a capacity to use radio signals in order to (re-learn) English when his vocal unit is damaged by Decepticon fire and subsequently replaced. Note that this would also strongly suggest that he's not speaking English, but rather his vocal unit is translating spoken Cybertronian into English.

Charlie and Memo stared at the radio, then looked at each other. Charlie returned her gaze to the radio and said, “Whoa, wait. Is that why you’re always messing with the dial, Bee? Are you teaching yourself to talk?”
Bumblebee readjusted the dial to play the lyrics from a song by the Four Seasons. “Walk like a man, talk like a man.”
“No freaking way,” Memo said.
“Bee, you’re a genius,” Charlie said. “An actual genius!”

Bumblebee: The Junior Novel

Given that someone traveling at greater than the speed of light would have access to 50+ years of radio traffic, it's certainly possible that he taught his voice unit English in much the same way when he first arrived.

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