As if Ridley Scott’s Prometheus were not already confusing enough (is it a prequel? is it a sequel? why do the Engineers want to wipe us out?), viewers are also subject to unintelligible dialogue at the most crucial moments of the murky sci-fi film, particulary with regard to Michael Fassbender’s David, a fastidious android who begins to develop his own ego and agenda and esoterically quotes Lawrence of Arabia, according to Rotten Tomatoes. David's indecipherable line to the Engineer prior to the alien’s freak-out remained a seemingly unsolvable mystery — until now.

Linguistic expert and Prometheus consultant Dr. Anil Biltoo of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies recently revealed the meaning of David’s alien monologue, telling The Bioscopist that it effectively translates to: “This man is here because he does not want to die. He believes you can give him more life.”

The line originally reads:

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

Exactly.

The "man" is none other than Guy Pearce’s Peter Weyland, who plays a billionaire with a god complex that finances the expedition and appears in the film for about a whole minute. Unfortunately, the revelation is anticlimactic at best: the elderly Weyland had already established this fact earlier on and David was merely reiterating his master’s wishes, so it offers no insight into the creepy, pasty alien’s ensuing wrath, as Entertainment Weekly noted.

What does prove insightful, and perhaps surprising, is that the language David speaks in is not actually alien gibberish, but rather Proto Indo European (PIE). In the opening scenes, you can see David learning the language from Dr. Biltoo himself, who appears briefly as a holographic professor reciting the real-life text of Schleicher’s Fable — a story created in 1868 in the reconstructed PIE language. Apparently, this is not even the first time that PIE has found its way onto the silver screen. The cryptic tongue had been previously used as the basis for the ‘exotic’ language featured in 2001's fantastical Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

Although the translation does not seem to reveal much beyond the fact that David was loyal (-ish) to the end, Dr. Biltoo added that the original sequence was much longer and featured a comprehensive conversation between the android and the Engineer, so we will have to keep our fingers crossed for a full disclosure in the director’s cut.

—GEMMA JUAN-SIMO

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