Prometheus left us with so many questions that we’ll have to ponder over on Tumblr and when we buy the DVD, but here’s at least one answer. Those who have seen the movie will remember a pivotal scene near the end when David (Michael Fassbender), the aging Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), and Dr. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) return to the massive grounded ships in order to wake up one of the alien Engineers. We know from the film’s opening sequence that David has spent the last few years studying the building blocks of ancient human languages in order to attempt to approximate the Engineers’ tongue. But when he says something that sounds like this…
“/ida hmanəm aɪ kja namṛtuh zdɛ:taha/…/ghʷɪvah-pjorn-ɪttham sas da:tṛ kredah/”
…the Engineer promptly rips his head off, crumples poor old Weyland, and goes after Shaw. So what the hell did David say?! My assumption was that he had simply failed to create a usable language and it came out as all gibberish. As you can see from the Tumblr manip above, others assumed that David the asshole robot intentionally (or not) told the Engineer to go fuck himself.
But now we have an answer! It turns out that everything involved with David’s personal Rosetta Stone lessons was accurate: The language he was studying is called Proto-Indo-European, and he was being coached by a real linguist, Dr. Anil Biltoo. Dr. Biltoo was also the actual language consultant for Prometheus, and he was kind enough to explain what the line meant. He said that “a serviceable English translation” of David’s greeting to the Engineer is this:
“This man is here because he does not want to die. He believes you can give him more life.”
So, he did everything right, and the Engineer still reacted violently. Though the words themselves might be disappointingly normal, it actually illustrates the film’s central theme, that we humans (and our robot counterparts) can plan for everything and still get screwed by aliens.
Photo: fassynated on Tumblr