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  1. Science & Tech
3 March 2017

9 times characters said “English, please?“ in response to basic technological concepts

Why is Hollywood so behind the times when it comes to hard drives? 

By Amelia Tait

Do you ever position your posterior pelvic region on a moulded fibrous structural tissue in order to perceive the continuous motion of visible wavelengths of light on a screen via the phi phenomenon? And while you’re doing that, do you ever cognize that many chimerical ingénues will ask technologically-dexterous members of Hominina tribe to elucidate their loquacious ruminations?

Cool. Here’s a definitive ranking of all the times that’s happened, from worst (most infuriating) to best (least infuriating).

1. Hackers (1995)

Gill: How’s it going, Ray?

Agent Ray: It looks good, sir. We’ve got an uncorrupted hard drive.

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Gill: In English, please.

In this movie Gill is a Secret Service Agent. In this movie another agent uses a very common adjective in front of an okay-possibly-a-bit-obscure-in-1995-but-you-are-a-Secret-Service-Agent noun. None of us can, or indeed should, forgive Gill.

2. Ghostbusters II (1989)

Egon: Negative human emotions are materializing in the form of a viscous, psychoreactive plasm with explosive supernormal potential.

Mayor: Does anybody speak English here?

Who voted for this mayor? How could the entire population of New York City trust him? While yes, a lot of the words in this scene are actual made-up nonsense, I would like my mayor to have developed the ability to single out important words such as “plasm” and “explosive”. Bad mayor. Bad man.

3. GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra (2009)

Doctor: When they returned to sentience brain scans showed complete inactivity in the self-preservation region of the cortex.

McCullen: English, Doctor.


4. Men In Black (1997)

K: Set for pulsar level five, subsonic implosion factor two.

J: What?

K: Just shoot the damn thing on the count of three.

Hot damn this is upsetting. Very upsetting. What the nice man is telling Will Smith is to set one dial to “5” and the other to “2”. That’s not hard. That’s how dials are designed. Also, if the solution is simply to shoot, then why do they have the dials, Bart? Why do they have the dials?

5. The World Is Not Enough (1999)

James Bond: I DID kill us! She thinks we’re dead and she thinks she got away with it!

Christmas Jones: Do you wanna put that in English for those of us who don’t speak spy?

Cheating a little here, cus there ain’t much science or technology going on. In many ways, however, that makes this so much worse. Christmas Jones overcame all of her birth-name adversity to become a doctor, so it’s frankly offensive that she says “Speak English” when what she really means is “Please explain further.” But that’s just my opinion.

6. The Avengers (2012)

Tony: Then stay in the control unit and reverse polarity long enough to disengage mag…

Captain America: Speak English!

Tony: See that red lever? It’ll slow the rotors down long enough for me to get out. Stand by it, wait for my word.

I respect Captain America here. I always respect Captain America, of course, but here I can understand his frustration with old Tone. If what you need to say can be summarised with the words “See that red lever”, then say the words “see that red lever” – that’s pretty much my rule for life.

7. Spy Kids (2001)

Minion: Sir, if you want to catch a criminal… you send a criminal. If you want to snare a spy…

Floop: Please speak English, Minion!

God this makes no sense. It makes no sense that just reading it has elevated me to a level of godliness that you can never hope to achieve. Minion is literally speaking English, the plainest English. Most of the words are one syllable. What was Floop’s motivation here? What was he going through? This exchange is a very telling look into the psychological motivations behind Floop’s actions. It is perhaps the defining moment of the film.

8. Back to the Future II (1989)

Doc: Obviously the time continuum has been disrupted creating this new temporally venced sequence resulting in this alternative reality.

Marty: English, Doc!

Perhaps the most infuriating use of this trope is when writers use it to explain simplistic concepts that they assume their audience don’t understand. But in this instance, the trope is entirely justifiable, because time travel, man. I’ve read the Wikipedia page for this movie at least two and a half times, and I still don’t get it.

9. Chicken Run (2000)

Ginger: You took a nasty fall.

Mac: Spraining a tendon connected to the humerus. I wrapped her up.

Rocky: Was that English?

I dunno. I’m just impressed chickens can speak English at all.