Prometheus Secrets Revealed: What Did David Say to the Engineer?
Of the many, many unexplained puzzles left untangled in Ridley Scott's Prometheus, one deliberately vague scene has had Prometheus-watchers scratching their heads and speculating for weeks — let's call it the "Lost in Translation" question. So what did Michael Fassbender's David say, in non-translated ancient alien-speak, to a certain you-know-who in Prometheus? Actual answers within!
Over at The Bioscopist blog, Stu Holmes was wondering the same question when he managed to track down the real-life linguistics expert who served as consultant on the film, Dr. Anil Biltoo of London's SOAS Language Centre. Biltoo not only taught Fassbender how to speak in Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language as the android David — seen studying ancient communication as the crew sleeps in the film's opening measures — he also appeared onscreen as the holographic linguistics teacher David learns from as he recites the real-life text Schleicher's Fable, a story created in 1868 in the reconstructed PIE language.
While Scott, Damon Lindelof, and Co. remain mum about Prometheus's many open-ended provocations, Biltoo revealed what it is that David whispers to the Engineer at the end of the film, setting off the being's violent rampage:
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’.
Aha! So... according to Dr. Biltoo, David did as directed by Weyland, with no funny business involved. I'd entertained the thought that David had deliberately provoked the Engineer into attacking Weyland, but Biltoo sets the record, and David, straight: A loyal robot to the end. Kinda. The revelation also supports the idea that the Engineers were set on punishing humanity for their flaws and hubris, though why the Engineer then tore off David's head is still a mystery.
More intriguing is what Dr. Biltoo shares about that scene: There was a full conversation in the PIE language between David and the Engineer. "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," he said.
How does the David revelation affect your thoughts on Prometheus? Sound off below.