SPOILER: This is about the meaning of what David said to the Engineer. If you are one of those people who doesn't want to know, don't read this.
These are the words that David said to the Engineer:
ida hmanâm aî kya namrrtuh zdêêtaha. gwhivah-pyorn-îttham sas daatrr kredah.
And what does it mean?
Literally it breaks down to:
this man (is) here because not-die he-desires. life_increase_wish to-him you-(can)-give he-believes.
And what is the best approximation of what that means in everyday English? What would the sub-title have been if there had been one?
This man is here because he does not want to die. He believes you can give him more life.
And where did this information come from?
It was supplied by Dr. Anil Biltoo of SOAS
at the University of London. Dr. Biltoo was hired by Ridley Scott to design the Engineers’ language, teach it to the actors who learned it, and appear on screen as David's language instructor. If you've seen the film, you know what he looks and sounds like. That's also him teaching David while the rest of the crew is still in hibernation.
The Engineers’ language is based on Dr. Biltoo's own version of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European
. In the fictional context of the movie, it is assumed that over 5,000 years ago contact between the Engineers and humans exposed us to this mother language whose human "daughters" are now spoken by roughly 3 billion humans
. Because of this fictional "real link" in human past to the Engineers and their language within the logic of the storytelling, David is able to communicate with them. One of David's features is that he knows all forms of human communication.
Some of the words in "Engineer," as it was apparently commonly called during the production, actually have a recognizable connection to modern English. You'll likely recognize «hmanâm» as "human" or simply "man." The verb at the end. «kredah» ("he believes"), has echoes in English "creed," which is a "set of beliefs."
For those who are interested in getting even more flavor of what the language is like. Here is the full version of Schleicher's Fable
in the version that the Engineers would likely understand.
hyewîs yasmâ hwælnâ nahâst aqwhunsâz dadrrkta, tâm ghêrmha vagam ugênthâ, tâm magham bhrrma, tâm hâmanam hêhok bharânt. hyewîs aqwhobyun vakta; mya kêrt xnutâya vizât hmanam aqwhunsâz uh-gnathâ. aqwhunz vaktantâ: kludh hyewa! kêrt xnutâya vîvîzdama: hâmanas patâsa hyewasya hwælnam swah gwhârmam vastram hyewîzbya hwælnâ nahâst. tod aklawa hyewîs agrâm abhogtâ.
Apparently Michael Fassbender spent hours and hours committing the entire fable to memory, only to have the first line of it used in the film. Poor Fassy.
of the translation.