THE LINGUISTICS OF PROMETHEUS – WHAT DAVID SAYS TO THE ENGINEER

The Sacrificial Engineer – (C) 20th Century Fox

I’m sure there are many of you out there who, like me, have a million different questions after seeing Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. And some great analysis and theory has been mulled over with a fine tooth comb, see Brad Brevet’s great article at Rope of Silicone. But only so much analysis can be performed before you hit a stumbling block, and require a little more in-depth research. I am of course referring to the mysterious monologue that android David speaks to the alien ‘Engineer’ in the final scenes of the film, which left many in the dark. How exactly do you begin to translate alien-speak? The clue lies in an earlier scene where David learns about linguistics, while the rest of the crew are in stasis.

[UPDATE: An Easter Egg was found on the Blu-ray with an English Translation of the sacrifice scene]

In the scene David is learning the building blocks of language and we see him taking a lesson in Proto-Indo-European (PIE) Linguistics, where a holographic professor, takes him through the ABC’s and recites Schleicher’s Fable. An artificial text composed in the reconstructed PIE, in 1868, to demonstrate the language’s use.

hjewɪs jasmə hwælnə nahəst akʷunsəz dadʳkta (Translated as: a sheep that had no wool saw horses) – Excerpt from Schleicher’s Fable – The Sheep and the Horses

The good doctor himself…

The ‘Professor’ in the clip is in fact the real-life linguistics consultant used for the film and taught Michael Fassbender (David) the dialogue. I managed to track down the consultant, a Dr. Anil Biltoo of the SOAS Language Centre in London, to see if he could shed some light on the mysterious final scene. He was most helpful and provided the following:

The line that David speaks to the Engineer (which is from a longer sequence that didn’t make the final edit) is as follows:

/ida hmanəm aɪ kja namṛtuh zdɛ:taha/…/ghʷɪvah-pjorn-ɪttham sas da:tṛ kredah/

A serviceable translation into English is:

‘This man is here because he does not want to die. He believes you can give him more life’.

Thanks Doc!

So basically David just asked what his master, Peter Weyland, requested. As the good doctor pointed out, there is a longer sequence which Ridley Scott filmed, but ultimately cut.

We’re all going to have to wait for the Director’s cut to see if the conversation between the Engineer and David – and there was indeed originally a conversation, not merely an utterance from David – yields any fruit.- Dr. Anil Biltoo

So were going to have to wait for the Directors cut to hear what the ‘Engineer’s reply was to David’s request. Of course Dr. Biltoo is keeping quiet about the details regarding the cut scenes – I’m sure there are plenty contractual reasons he cannot spill the beans. But once we have the DVD release and isolate that audio, it wont be long before some hot shot linguist translates it, and perhaps we’ll know the answer to Shaw’s question – “Why did they change their minds about us?”

Dr. Biltoo also revealed that Fassbender spent 17 hours reciting Schleicher’s Fable, committing it to memory, only to have Ridley Scott use the first line in the film. – What I find far more impressive is that he sat through all 3hrs 45min of Lawrence of Arabia – on multiple occasions – I always knew the Fassmember was a dedicated actor – but wow!

For further insights, have a look at this discussion board over at the linguistic forum called Language Log, here. There are some great isolated audio clips of dialogue from the film.

[NOTE: Here is a full analysis of the Deleted scene - written on Sat 13th Oct]
 

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on anthony.john.maxwell.

  2. David also said: ΤΟ ΜΟΥΝΙ ΤΗΣ ΑΔΕΛΦΗΣ ΣΟΥ ΚΑΡΙΟΛΗ
    and the engineer answered: ΤΗΣ ΜΑΝΑΣ ΣΟΥ ΡΕ

  3. BigSlowTarget says:

    Why did they change their minds about us? Because we were not the first of their children to return to them and earlier meetings did not go well. The other race was more aggressive and dangerous to their creators. Some might even call them …predatory.

    • Because we killed one of them 2000 years previously.

    • The other pondering leans me towards not being allowed to live forever, hence big ole Engineer trying to rip everyone apart.

      They gave us a gift and we tried to own it, which goes back to Prometheus being punished and so forth…

      We tried to take fire from the Gods, when it didn’t belong to us.

      That, or, they wanted to kill any trace of us, so they could head back to Earth and steal the resources that don’t exist any more? I don’t buy that, it’s much simpler, it’s power.

    • meyesme says:

      I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Bioscopist has an interesting article which sheds some light on what David says to the Engineer at the of [...]

  2. [...] Teacher on Prometheus, has revealed exactly what it was that David said in an interview with The Bioscopist (via Ropes of Silicon): “This man is here because he does not want to die. He believes you [...]

  3. [...] David Says to the Engineer Prometheus News | Posted by ikarop on 20 Jun 2012 11:23 PM The website Thebioscopist.com has tracked down the linguistics consultant used for Prometheus in a effort to determinate what [...]

  4. [...] at The Bioscopist blog, Stu Holmes was wondering the same question when he managed to track down the real-life [...]

  5. [...] at The Bioscopist blog, Stu Holmes was wondering the same question when he managed to track down the real-life [...]

  6. [...] The Bioscopist tracked down Dr. Biltoo, who explained that the line we hear spoken by David is really just the opening to a longer conversation between David and the Engineer, which was cut from the final film. [...]

  7. [...] Fassbender) speaks to an Engineer. But no one knows what he’s saying. Or do they? The website Bioscopist decided they’d do the world a favor and break it down for fans, since Damon Lindelof [...]

  8. [...] to The Bioscopist, who did an interview with Dr. Anil Biltoo of the SOAS Language Centre in London, who served as [...]

  9. [...] at The Bioscopist blog, Stu Holmes was wondering the same question when he managed to track down the real-life [...]

  10. [...] The Bioscopist tracked down Dr. Biltoo, who explained that the line we hear spoken by David is really just the opening to a longer conversation between David and the Engineer, which was cut from the final film. [...]

  11. [...] at The Bioscopist blog, Stu Holmes was wondering the same question when he managed to track down the real-life [...]

  12. [...] at The Bioscopist blog, Stu Holmes was wondering the same question when he managed to track down the real-life [...]

  13. [...] The Bioscopist Via: /Film /* /* */ สนับสนุน FilmZick.com ง่ายๆ [...]

  14. [...] The Bioscopist tracked down Dr. Biltoo, who explained that the line we hear spoken by David is really just the opening to a longer conversation between David and the Engineer, which was cut from the final film. [...]

  15. [...] to the giant engineer douche who then goes on a pointless killing spree, but Stu Holmes over at The Bioscopist got the skinny directly from Dr. Anil Biltoo of the SOAS Language Centre in [...]

  16. [...] Society special effects issue * Ethic Modernity review * Reddit discussion 1 * Reddit discussion * What David said to the Engineer [...]

  17. [...] (Michael Fassbender) was studying an ancient language at the beginning of the film. According to The Bioscopist the language was actually Proto-Indo-European (PIE), which Michael Fassbender learned from Dr. Anil [...]

  18. [...] az android az idegennek; voltak olyan hangok is, melyek szerint David elárulta gazdáját. A The Bioscopist blog szerzője levadászta a filmben segédkező nyelvészt (aki egyébként maga is feltűnik a [...]

  19. [...] the SOAS Language Center in London, who acted as the language consultant on the film, spoke with The Bioscopist and dished some dirt on the conversation that took place inside the alien [...]

  20. [...] THE LINGUISTICS OF PROMETHEUS – WHAT DAVID SAYS TO THE ENGINEER Canta cucu bata-l vina. De rasuna Bucovina (…) Bucovina plai cu soare, Te-au calcat rusii-n [...]

  21. [...] David (Michael Fassbender) and the Engineer in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus has been revealed, The Bioscopist reports. The language consultant for the film, Dr. Anil Biltoo – who can be seen in the film [...]

  22. [...] at The Bioscopist blog, Stu Holmes was wondering the same question when he managed to track down the real-life [...]

  23. [...] website The Bioscopist tracked down linguistic expert Dr. Anil Biltoo of London’s School of Oriental as well as [...]

  24. [...] discussions, it demands more viewings to try and spot something you may have missed the first time. The Bioscopist have been doing some sterling work by exploring ‘that’ line that David (Michael [...]

  25. [...] που είδαμε στο “Prometheus”. Το κινηματογραφικό site The Bioscopist εντόπισε τον Biltoo, ο οποίος εξήγησε διάφορα πράγματα [...]

  26. [...] Bioscopist ซึ่งได้ไปพูดคุยกับดร.แอนิล บิลทู [...]

  27. [...] Proto-Indo-European? Space jockeys? Dodgy character motivations? Giant human head sculptures in space? As soon as this film comes out in Germany I’m seeing it, golden turd or not. Until then all the articles I’d like to read about it are gettin’ stored right here. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

  28. [...] The Bioscopist var dd_offset_from_content = 100; var dd_top_offset_from_content = 0; [...]

  29. [...] The Linguistics of Prometheus: What David Says to the Engineer [...]

  30. [...] The Bioscopist notes that when David is learning the “building blocks” of language, a hologram appears to teach him Proto-Indo European Linguistics. The man in that hologram is Dr. Anil Biltoo of the University of London. The Bioscopist located Biltoo and acquired this translation: Here’s the line that David speaks to the Engineer, and the consultant’s translation of it: [...]

  31. [...] del maestro de Linguística de David, ha revelado qué fue exactamente lo que dijo el personaje en una entrevista: David dice: “Este hombre está aquí porque no quiere morir. Él cree que tú puedes ayudarlo [...]

  32. [...] A translation of what David said to the Engineer in Prometheus. [...]

  33. [...] Engenheiro quando o ressuscitou o mistério acabou, não foi nada de mais ” Em entrevista ao The Bioscopist, o linguista Dr. Anil Biltoo, que ajudou a construir a linguagem dos Engenheiros no filme com base [...]

  34. [...] briefly speaks with one of the Engineers. Here’s how Dr. Biltoo translated his speech for the Bioscopist: “The line that David speaks to the Engineer (which is from a longer sequence that didn’t [...]

  35. [...] The Linguistics of Prometheus: What David Says to the Engineer [...]

  36. [...] – lorsque David parle à l’ingénieur, il lui dit (parlant de Weyland): ” /ida hmanəm aɪ kja namṛtuh zdɛ:taha/…/ghʷɪvah-pjorn-ɪttham sas da:tṛ kredah/ “ Traduction (via l’anglais): “Cet homme est ici car il ne veut pas mourir. Il croit que vous pouvez rallonger sa vie. “ … et le dialogue sera étendu dans la version DVD… avec une réponse de l’Ingénieur !! Source: le linguiste qui a participé à l’élaboration du langage extra-terrestre [...]

  37. [...] Audiences are still asking questions about “Prometheus,” which probably says everything you need to know about Ridley Scott’s confounding, fascinating and frustrating return to science fiction. Now, at least one of those queries has an answer: Just what did David say to the Engineer in “Prometheus”? [...]

  38. THE LINGUISTICS OF PROMETHEUS – WHAT DAVID SAYS TO THE ENGINEER – The Bioscopist…

    I’ve waited all month to read this :)

  39. [...] dig, and later the android David practices some very real linguistics — studying Schleicher’s Fable, a highly speculative but non-fictional attempt to reconstruct early human languages — to [...]

  40. [...] Unfortunately we don’t get the translation of the Engineers response….so thanks for that david!?! I’m going to assume that if this extended scene is 10min in length, that there is quite possible more conversation to be seen and heard. Check out the earlier article on the initial translation from here. [...]

  41. [...] scene, while the rest of the crew are in cryostasis. He was also very helpful in providing the English translation for what David said to the Engineer, towards the final scenes of the film and hinted at the time, that the scene originally had [...]

  42. [...] Here is the first clip introducing Dr. Anil Biltoo, the liguistics consultant who worked on using the synthetic language – known as Proto Indo-European (PIE), that both the Engineers and David speak throughout the film. You can read more about that on a previous article The Linguistics of Prometheus. [...]

  43. [...] – Ko Deivids teica Inženierim? Kas to tik ļoti sadusmoja? Vai tas bija leģendārais teiciens “bikses nost un pa purnu”? Ne gluži – izrādās, mums vienkārši atņēma subtitrus; [...]

  44. [...] and easy distinctions. But the more useful discussions regarding the film’s use of proto-linguistics as well as the narrative’s synthesis of intelligent design and naturalism can be [...]

  45. […] The Bioscopist got in touch with the film’s linguistic expert advisor Dr Anil Biltoo of London’s […]

  46. [...] In the film, the android David is shown studying PIE on the ship while the humans sleep in suspended animation, with the help of a holographic projection of a linguistics professor, a real-life language consultant named Dr. Anil Biltoo. Later, David briefly speaks with one of the Engineers. Here’s how Dr. Biltoo translated his speech for the Bioscopist: [...]

  47. [...] The Bioscopist notes that when David is learning the “building blocks” of language, a hologram appears to teach him Proto-Indo European Linguistics. The man in that hologram is Dr. Anil Biltoo of the University of London. The Bioscopist located Biltoo and acquired this translation: [...]

Speak Your Mind

*

Current month ye@r day *