back to article Transformers helmsman demolishes English language

A whiny email from Transformers director Michael Bay to bosses at Paramount Studio pits the recreator of Optimus Prime against the rules of English grammar. The electronic missive (pdf), sent in May and leaked to gossip site TMZ, takes issue with Paramount's alleged lack of effort in promoting Transformers: Revenge of the …


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  1. Steve 63

    IS there?

    A new transformers Film out...???

    It must have been a film in disguise...

  2. Ted Treen

    I suppose I won't be the first... point out that our rebel colonial cousins long since forswore using correct English.

    It has been a deliberate policy of theirs to abjure anything reminiscent of Mother England (e,g, manners, politeness, consideration, etc.) so one assumes that's why they have abandoned precision in language and communication.

  3. Sly

    who cares about grammar

    the movie's got killer special effects.

    mines the one with the car exploding mid air off a cliff on the back

  4. Sooty

    i was just thinking

    90% of people won't even be able to see what's wrong with it.

    It's amazing how many people i come across that use "would of"

  5. adnim

    Pedancy Vs understanding

    With a multicultural Internet and communications network I think it is sufficient to be understood unless one is producing a thesis for an English language/ English literature degree. But then again I don't give really give a fsck about pedants. However illiteracy does give one a clue to the level of education achieved by the writer though not necessarily his/her intelligence.

    Besides this man is American is he not? It would be unfair to expect him to have full command of the English language. I am English, yet I struggle sometimes.

  6. Lloyd
    Thumb Down

    The first one was cack

    I fully expect the second one to be too, bizarre that Star Trek was written by the same guys.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    @Pedancy Vs understanding

    From the general thrust of your post I so know you want me to tell you the word is 'pedantry'

  8. Bod


    ... this is after all the same muppet who threw his toys out of the pram over Blu-Ray because he thought it made his films look better when at the time those stubborn Paramount types were backing HD DVD (for what it's worth, the two turned out to be absolutely carbon copy identical in picture).

    He's got influence though, regardless of his grammar. I'm certain his voice and (frankly irrational) love for Blu-Ray was a major factor in killing HD DVD. If it wasn't for the Paramount connection, he'd likely have been in bed and had babies with Sony and his offspring army would have single handedly annihilated the evil empire of Toshiba and Microsoft ;)

    Still, formats aside, the first is a cracking film to watch. Mindless plot as always, but still fun.

  9. Chris Seiter

    Smaller timeframe for changes

    In college I had to write a research paper. Some people chose to go the easy route; not me: "The History Of the English Language With an Emphasis On the Letter 'C'". The teacher's eyebrow raised so much it was on her neck. This is the same teacher, when asked to write a compare/contrast paper, I chose "Video Games/Sex." The section on controllers was excessively detailed.

    According to my research, it took hundreds, maybe thousands, of years for changes in the spoken language to occur, with the quickest being attributed to war. Now, in less than 20 years, our version of the English language has been slaughtered to the point that spelling and grammar are actually being phased out of my daughter's school. I still remember her telling me, "that's how a kindergartner spells it."

    They're now actually considering getting rid of penmanship.

  10. scottboy
    Paris Hilton


    That's "pedantry".

  11. Marvin the Martian

    I see what you did there.

    "Perceived" overreliance. Hahaha.

    But yes, true, in the strict meaning of "to observe".

  12. Ian 11

    Michael Bay

    Needs to STFU.

    He whined last time and he's whining this time. He's a serial fucking whiner.

    Go away Michael Bay, we don't care how much you fail and like to blame it on everyone but yourself.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Can someone explain what's wrong with the second sentence

    So that we, the ones that do not have our English embedded in our brains at birth by virtue of seeing the light in the sacred land of English language (UK) can at least share your disdain for the people that routinely use bad grammar and spelling (even the ones from the UK)

    Because the 'I still run into....' is something that I see coming from native English UK people over and over. And not being native English speaker makes me accept what comes from them as usually correct.

    Grammar nazis?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Fan's traumas...

    I hadn't noticed any obvious lack of publicity, personally. And as emails go, that one seems fairly comprehensible. Is there a 'not news' icon?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    title sez all

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, it's a good thing...

    ...that he's a director of action movies rather than an author! Oh, and he relies too much on special effects... in his movies ABOUT GIANT ROBOTS AND HUGE EXPLOSIONS. What was he supposed to do, have all the robots doing stuff off-screen? Turn Transformers into a dialog-driven drama? His freakin' JOB is to make movies that rely on special effects! What's next, oh brilliant movie critics - are you going to complain that 2001 relied too much on spaceship scenes?!

  17. Throatwobbler Mangrove

    Somewhere a Wesleyan professor is weeping

    My good friend Steven says the grammar is fine. My good friends Steven and Jerry understand me perfectly. My good friend Steven appreciates my work. My good friend Steven says that the only film I have done that is better than my last film is my next film. Jerry says Steven is even more successful than Jerry and I are - and that's saying something considering how successful Jerry and I are.

  18. The Beer Monster
    Thumb Down


    That should be "@adnim"

  19. David Evans

    @Can someone explain what's wrong with the second sentence

    The second line has poor punctuation, but the rest of the grammar is clumsy rather than wrong;


    I still run into so many people with kids, even this weekend, who ask, “is that movie coming out this year?”

  20. Pedantic Twat

    @Can someone explain what's wrong with the second sentence

    There's actually nothing wrong with "I still run into..."

    It's the rest of the sentence that's problematic. A bit of punctuation would help because It's not clear who's asking the question, people or kids. Without a few commas to help out he's also saying that weekends have kids.

    It should be "kids who", not "kids that" as well.

    It's much better than the first sentence. But, as many people have pointed out, we know what he means so does it really matter?

  21. adnim

    @the pedants

    I sit corrected... I shall stand up at some point soon, but for now I shall remain seated.

    I did write "I am English, yet I struggle sometimes." As you can see I am no liar.

    I guess a pedancy is somewhere a foot lives.

  22. John Savard


    I can see that there was a bad mistake in the first "grammatically horrifying" sentence, saying "would of" instead of "would have".

    The second sentence is somewhat run-together, and lacking in commas. A fully correct version would be:

    'Even this weekend, I still ran into so many people with kids that ask "Is that movie coming out this year".'

    So the lack of a capital letter on "is", and the use of the present-tense "run" instead of the past tense "ran" are indeed errors. I've seen far worse.

  23. Alistair MacRae

    So he got some words wrong so what

    Maybe he should have used a spell checker but he's still a talented guy.

    I liked Revenge of the Fallen and I do see what he was talking about with the lack of promotion.

    Did anyone else notice that less than a week before release Odeon wasn't showing it as being on, then two days before it comes out it's listed as one showing in manchester?!

    For those of you who complain about people "ruining our languade" why don't yee go back and learn old english you bunch of prescriptives :P

    English is all about change you know.

  24. Si 1

    Can I just say...

    ... as someone who grew up on the REAL Transformers that Bay's pretenders are nowhere near as good.

  25. Alasdair Fox

    pun alert

    hmm, there's more than meets the eye to this....

  26. scottboy

    @Beer monster

    I noticed as soon as I clicked 'Post comment'. I'll be sitting in the corner all night.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    @Alistair MacRae

    "English is all about change you know."

    And here I was thinking it was about communicating in a, reasonably, unambiguous manner.

  28. wibbilus maximus

    @Si 1

    agree 100%

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd have been more concerned...

    ...if Michael ('Pearl Harbor') Bay wrote grammatically pure, beautiful prose - and yet still directed cinematic dreck like 'Transformers'.

    I actually think he's getting worse - not quite Roland ('Universal Soldier') Emmerich bad, but still buttock-clenchingly dreadful.

  30. Kevin 6

    My 2 cents.

    Well the issue I had with TF1 was that instead of a plot (the old Cartoon 30 min episodes had more in dept plots) they put as many references to Pepsi products (mostly mountain dew), Ford, Ebay, and Nokia as possible also he added a bunch of explosions. Then he shoots almost every action scene (I don't remember any where the cameraman doesn't seem to be suffering from Parkinson's disease) with a shaky camera, so you can't see any action very clearly so they end up looking like shit.

    And to defend Paramount wouldn't advertising a hour and a half long Ford commercial be kind of repetitive?

    Transformers 1 was the 1st and last Michael Bay film I will ever see. Actually TF1 was so bad it was the last movie I've seen in the theaters that's how ripped off I felt. Now I just wait for movies to come on satellite instead of wasting $25 to see the shit Hollywood is putting out.. Wish Hollywood would learn pirates are not the reason their revenue is down its horrendous movies made by people like Michael Bay driving people away from the theaters.

    And to the people who are thinking OHH HE PROBABLY WILL PIRATE IT I have not downloaded ANYTHING Hollywood has put out period. I don't feel like wasting my bandwidth on that drivel.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    try this bad grammar on for size




  32. Peyton

    Maybe Faulkner has ruined me

    It's an email. Its grammatical shortcomings simply reinforce that he was highly distraught and emotional when he sent it. He's still a git, because his actions are hardly professional, but I'm not yet prepared to make him an effigy of all that is wrong with American education.

    @Ted: So promulgating stereotypes does meet the criteria of "manners, politeness, consideration"? Nice. I take it then, by implication, that "innit" falls into the category of correct and proper English? Lovely.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Director gets email wrong"

    Big news we have today. Are you sure that all this is not part of the missing campaign he complains about?

    At least will promote the movie among the massive Reg readership. Not a bad way of having a few impressions for nothing.

  34. Jack

    Spoken, Not Stirred

    He must be using a dictation. Try reading what he "wrote" out loud - it makes perfect sense as spoken American English. Not that this is an excuse for what is, after all, attrocious grammar in a written missive, mind you: merely an explanation.

    Whether spoken American English has anything to do with grammar (or the butchering thereof) is another matter entirely...

  35. Paul Hutchison

    To the grammar pedants...

    ...get a life, really.......

  36. Quirkafleeg

    Re: To the grammar pedants…

    You mean "… get a life, really…", and I'm using this as an excuse to use the icon which can only have been put there for me to use.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's using a speech-to-text program

    It looks like he used a speech-to-text program to write the e-mail. So "would have" sounds like "would of". And the punctuation is all wrong in the second sentence.

    When you use such a program, you tend also tend to use spoken English instead of written English. You also tend to swear a lot because those programs still don't work well.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    As the queen herself might say...

    His bad!

  39. Anonymous Coward

    This is a man who thinks CGI toys smacking the fuck out of one another

    is a sufficiently strong premise upon which to base a movie: is anyone surprised that he can't write for shit? Anyway, that's what they have writers for in Hollywood, even though the vast majority of them can't write for shit either. Which is what they have script doctors for. And when that fails (and it does), there's Megan Fox to look at. *sigh*

  40. dave hands

    eats shoots and leaves

    Does it matter?

    It certainly does.

    It's nice that so many noticed and scary how many don't care.

  41. disgruntled yank

    it's email

    How closely do El Reg's writers check every email for grammar and spelling before clicking Send?

  42. Lupus

    @ Si 1

    "... as someone who grew up on the REAL Transformers that Bay's pretenders are nowhere near as good."

    I know, right? They didn't even split in the middle and unleash and little robot from within!

  43. Anonymous Coward


    Finally! My own avatar! I'm so happy! :-)

    Anyway - this is a bloke who makes Hollywood movies based on dollies for boys - and we're surprised that he wouldn't know grammar from his arsehole? I doubt that the boys who play with those dollies or see the movies would know or care either.

    Thank you, Polly Prissypants.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    re who fucking cares ?

    Me. When I get a job application with bad grammar or spelling, it suggests the author is lazy and/or stupid. I really would rather spend my time working with my team to produce good software without having a part time job as a remedial teacher.

  45. Andy Barber

    I for one...

    ... welcome our pedant overlords!

  46. Justin 18

    Reliance on spellcheck

    "BWAA! You know wut he meenz, y complain?!"


    My favorite demonstration of why you shouldn't be an illiterate slob (besides looking like a lazy dumbass):

    Eliminating the capitalization and punctuation from "Yesterday I had to help my uncle, Jack, off his horse." results in a -drastically- different meaning...

  47. Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 24th June 2009 00:26 GMT

    Should you not has use this there icon instead of the one you use?

  48. OffBeatMammal

    storm in a teacup...

    .... and you should all have gotten over it by now

    (sorry, couldn't resist)

    As an ex-pat is amuses me no end when I come back to good old Blighty only to be totally stumped as I can't understand a word the person checking my passport says, nor for that matter can I watch East Enders with out the assistance of subtitles.

    That said, while his movies are absolute tosh I'm glad to see that his passion for his art obviously makes him inarticulate with indignation

  49. Anthony Bathgate

    Wait, what?

    I don't take nearly as much issue with the grammar as I do with his accusations. That movie? Under-promoted? WHAT?

    I can't watch TV without seeing a commercial for it (or even more irritatingly, a commercial for ANOTHER company or product that ties into it) - I can't travel in public without seeing billboards and cross-branding on stores with it.

    I can't go to a movie without seeing the fecking preview. The reason nobody downloaded the trailer is because we've already seen the entire god damned thing (if not the entire movie) in other places.

  50. The Beer Monster

    All these new comment icons

    And no ODFO for the esteemed Ms Bee?

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re:Does it realy matter?

    I'm no "grammar nazi" (Godwin's law anyone?), but some of those just make my head hurt. I can understand them, but it's painful to my brain. Some of us think in a more structured way than others, and it is rather horrific to those of us who have structured minds. Every time someone says "could of" or something like that I want to flatten them.

    As to English being a changing language, I'm all for evolution through practicality. There is a difference between someone making a conscious decision not to conform to existing "rules", and one who does so because he is stupid.

    Not sure about the dictation theory.

  52. JohnG


    The snag with poor grammar and spelling is that there comes a point when people can no longer communicate their ideas to others. The "it is only email" idea is a bit daft - email is widely used in business communications. I find it sad that people who have spent some years in further education are sometimes unable to make themselves understood in their native language. This is particularly sad in a multinational environment.

  53. David Adams

    Yeah, but

    More Megan Fox.

    That is all.

  54. Steve Swann

    @David Evans AND the rest of you... TUT!

    "corrected: 'I still run into so many people with kids, even this weekend, who ask, “is that movie coming out this year?'”

    No, no, no. See me after class. You're missing the use of that fine article of punctuation, the SEMI-COLON!

    Corrected, it should read as follows...

    "I still run into so many people with kids; even this weekend, who ask, 'is that movie coming out this year?'"

    Now, write it out a hundred times.

  55. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: @David Evans AND the rest of you... TUT!

    >"I still run into so many people with kids; even this weekend, who ask, 'is that movie coming out this year?'"

    No no. It's too wrong to be fixed by a semi-colon. And the semi-colon is in the wrong place anyway.

    Hey, let's have some kind of competition or something where you lot try and out-grammar each other in fixing the appallingly shoddy English of this millionaire movie director, and I offer an amazing prize of a shiny thing which I have no intention of awarding to anyone.

  56. W

    Re:Re:Does it realy matter? [sic]

    "There is a difference between someone making a conscious decision not to conform to existing "rules", and one who does so because he is stupid."

    I am willing to forgo a criticism of the foregoing misspelling of the title because it's a typo. It happens. I will now proceed to pass comment on the preceding quote...

    I can just about ignore the "stupid factor". Some people posting here might not be using English as a first language, or were never taught the basics.

    But that the way in which some folk claim that their ignorance of very basic grammar and spelling is part of some kind of deliberate or natural evolution of the language is laughable. It is not. Be humble enough to admit your ignorance when it exists, and then do something about it.

    Eg: Your / you're have their own distinct meanings. To mix the two is just plain wrong and introduces ambiguity. As far as evolution goes, I can see how yr or UR could be useful as substitutes in the (ever fewer) times where there are extreme limts on character use. Yr is a contraction of your. Fine. UR is using letters to repesent the already contracted words that make up you're (U R = 'you are'). That's logical, too. But using UR to represent 'your' just displays yr lack of understanding of what UR doing.

    Ironically enough, the folk on here who wallow in their grammatical ignorance are probably the same folk who berate non-savvy PC users. All you apologists for willful and flagrant disregard of language structure are just the same as those who berate non-savvy PC users.

    I try to have patience with most non-savvy PC users. We can't all be totally on top of everything. It's the headstrong, non-savvy users without patience that are the problem. The ones who won't even click and browse the start menu programs folder if an icon disappears from the desktop, but proceed to blame the computer for being stupid. The ones who are just plain stubborn and are looking to pass on the blame for their own

    And that's you^H^H^Hr IT angle.

  57. cor

    never mind the story...

    Wahaaaay new icons!!

  58. W

    @ S Bee

    >"Hey, let's have some kind of competition or something where you lot try and out-grammar each other in fixing the appallingly shoddy English of this millionaire movie director, and I offer an amazing prize of a shiny thing which I have no intention of awarding to anyone."

    What on earth did you expect to happen in this particular comments section?

    Pedantic Reg story + pedantic Reg readers = pedantic Reg comments

    I'm happy to have done my bit.

  59. Mark Greenwood

    It doesn't need grammae correction..

    It needs translation from Whiny Spolied Egomanic into English.


    "I'm sure the Yahoo downloads of the trailer are far lower than last movie--I would of got something saying how we broke download records like last time."

    My last movie was SO GOOD we broke RECORDS! YEAH! YEAH! I didn't get an email this time, so it's YOUR FAULT, since I am obviously a genius. Sort it out or my Dad will beat you up.


    "I still run into so many people even this weekend with kids that ask 'is that movie coming out this year?'"

    The PEOPLE want my movies and your are DENYING the people you fuckers. They LOVE ME, they LOVE MY MOVIES. YEAH! I AM A GENIUS! please love my movies, I'm so unhappy....

  60. Anonymous Coward

    Who cares?

    As long they use the same voice dubbing for Maximus Prime in both movies (perfect match), and it doesn´t make my ears bleed (due the aforementioned director's or producer's poor grammar) when I watch the movie, WHO THE HELL CARES?

    I don´t.

    PS. On a unrelated article, the special effects on this one deserve the full HD Blu-Ray treatment. This is the kind of movie designed to shut your brain down and get mesmerized by the CG effects.

    And pray that no freaking grammar or plot error wakes it back up.

    After a week-full of body and soul wearing-and-tearing in our boring lives and jobs, a good flick comes to a soothing rescue of morale... even if it implies some drug dealer's head being blown off by a shotgun (after he pleaded for open-casket funeral, because he knew he was toast anyway), or some shaved bald dude managing to hurl a cop's car into an helicopter flying 50 ft high.

    That what's blu-ray for, since most of the GOOD movies were made in 35mm and are deteriorating, perhaps beyond repair, before they could be digitized in HD. Most of the stuff created nowadays is crap, full-HD crap.

  61. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    Meanwile in other nues

    The 'merkins have announced that the letter 'u' is to restored to the wurd "colour", it's new spelling will be:-


  62. Grammar Nazi


    I will not comment on this story, but thanks for the icon!

  63. Yorkshirepudding

    icon win

    this article was written for this icon

  64. Richard Russell

    Only one grammar error here

    And that's "could of" for "could have", which doesn't confuse anybody.

    What's happening here is that the writer of the email is not using Standard Written English, but is instead writing as he would speak. Then again, I doubt if it was written for general publication (or major distribution) - only for private consumption. Ha,ha! (A good teacher always laughs at his own jokes. Has to)

    "Could of" is a classic error in those who do not (or cannot, or will not, or never learned how to) write in Standard Written English. In normal speech, "could have" sounds exactly the same as "could of", you see.

    Apart from the that, you can understand why the guy makes movies.

  65. frank ly

    @Richard Russell re. Only one grammar error here

    "..In normal speech, "could have" sounds exactly the same as "could of", you see. "

    Actually, it's "could've" that sounds the same as "could of"

    Also, it's not a 'grammar error', it's a 'grammatical error'.

    (Do I get the 'pedantic twat of the day' prize now?)

    Beer...because you all need one and so do I after that lot.

  66. Richard Russell

    Where's the hair-splitting icon, Ms Bee?

    "Could've" is just a writing convention for the spoken words (and isn't Standard Written English, but acceptable in some other styles). When spoken it isn't written, you see.

    It's a 'grammar error' in the same way as it's a 'policy decision' or a 'thought crime' or a 'garden gate'. It's something the English language can do.

    Unless you want to distinguish between using incorrect grammar and making an error in a grammatical manner?

  67. Richard Russell


    What is it with you guys? The original sentence, 'I still run into so many people with kids, even this weekend, who ask, “is that movie coming out this year?"', is perfectly OK except that there should be a capital 'I' after "ask".

    The interjection, "even this weekend" is not a grammar error (or even a grammatical error) but simply a good example of a person unable to cope with writing. Punctuation may work wonders but it cannot correct a faulty brain.

    To be fair, this is normal in speech. When we speak we often change sentences about in mid-stream and interject stuff that happens to pass through our brains at that moment, because - who cares? Unless someone is recording it the words have gone - hey presto! - and no one remembers them. But writing, now, it lingers . . . and lingers . . . and lingers.

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