16 Responses to Dr Biltoo creator of the Engineer language referring to a site which managed a t
Bjarne KastanjenøttOvomorphMember0 XPDec-15-2012 6:13 PM
After seeing this movie I must say that I did understand much of what the engineer and the robot said. This must be because my native toungh is based on Indo European and that I know several other languages that has the same heritance. I speak norwegian, german, french and english, Other Scandinavian languages are just dialects of norwegian so they are also good.
Alien DNAOvomorphMember10 XPOct-10-2012 4:47 PM
Could be, you might have to wait and see what sukkal says about that for a solid answer though.
Mala'kakOvomorphMember0 XPOct-10-2012 5:42 PM
Would be awesome if it was this forum. I definitely remember reading a post by someone who was trying to translate and decipher the message.
tankgirlOvomorphMember0 XPOct-10-2012 5:45 PM
yes.. Im fairly sure it was Sukkal
cant wait to hear from him
He is so amazing with Linguistics!!!
I remember the fever pitch members were working on the decoding
it was so exciting!! :)
\"My God, its full of stars\" David Bowman
sukkalOvomorphMember0 XPOct-10-2012 10:39 PM
I think the site that was being referred to by Dr. Biltoo was the discussion on Language Log and [url=http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4008]this article[/url].
It's very sad to me that so much of what Dr. Biltoo created for the Engineers to say was cut (and not even included in the bonus material), but I believe that it was done because Ridley and/or Fox decided that certain aspects of the Engineer culture, or "mythology" if you prefer, needed to be redacted from the film. This means that the Sacrifice Ritual is missing all of its ceremony and that Ian (The Last Engineer) could not say all of the things to David (and Weyland through David as an interpreter) that were actually in the script and filmed.
The content redaction at the beginning (Dettifoss) simply led to the footage being missing and completely unreferenced.
The content redaction and modification at the end ("The Engineer Speaks") was affected both by the deprecation of the mythology threads, but also by the fact that in post production the sound engineers felt that Ian needed to sound like someone monstrously (my word and opinion) powerful. This is discussed in [i]Furious Gods[/i] ("The Making Of" Blu-Ray do***entary). I saw this for the first time last night and the do***entary (while excellent) is very long and It was midnight before this segment on this came up. I apologize, but I didn't note the name of the sound engineer who took it upon himself to re-record Ian's dialogue. I believe that he tried very hard to get something that sounded good based on all of the restraints placed on him. He even replaced "Kva vllnâ teva?" ("What do you want?") with "_____ vulit teva" which is almost intelligible. Of course, he had to do his best to match the lip/mouth movements of Ian's performance that was already in the can. In the do***entary, you can even hear Ian during filming saying the line: "Kâm gwhivah-pyorn-îttham vllnaah?" ("How can he want more life?"), a line that never made it even into the deleted scenes.
I was very pleased by some of the things that Jon Spaihts said and showed in the do***entary. He seemed very clued into the importance of the Engineers having their own language. It was taken into account in his "Mythology" background do***ent too. I think he might really have "gotten it" about how important the Engineers were to all of this, but it seems that Fox just didn't trust him because he was "unproven."
As someone who's very stimulated by xenolinguistics, here is what I (personally) think the production did correctly:
- Hired Dr. Biltoo to come up with a spoken language solution that was thematically plausible based on timelines of the story, real Earth history, Engineer physiology, need for actors to pronounce it, etc.
Here is what they did wrong:
- Didn't use a written language that corresponded to the spoken one. (Though, there are ways to explain this away.)
- (Apparently) didn't (try to) consult Dr. Biltoo for grammatically correct dialogue replacement when it needed to change. (I'm only guessing that this was the case, but it seems so.)
Now, does doing these linguistic things "wrong" ruin the movie? NO. But, [b]it would not have cost any more to get it right[/b]. MOST PEOPLE (movie makers, and fans alike) don't really take the linguistic aspects of the crafting of the suspension of disbelief seriously. AND, the MAIN REASON for a science fiction franchise to invest just a tiny bit of effort into getting this correct is that using a REAL constructed language gives a certain subset of fans something to do between films that [b]keeps them engaged with the franchise[/b]. You don't offend or disappoint ANYONE by doing it right. BUT, you do disappoint SOME by doing it without sincerity; sloppily. And I repeat, it doesn't cost any more in the big picture of things to do it correctly.
Spoken and/or orthographic gibberish attached to an alien intelligence or culture are a lost opportunity. You could have made your world even more differentiated, even more believable, even more rich, special and interesting to your fans.
CustodianOvomorphMember0 XPOct-11-2012 8:33 AM
well, I'm gonna piss off a lot of people with this, but here's my take on all this rushing to print of inaccurate dialogue, ready?
[url=http://www.prometheus-movie.com/community/forums/topic/10416]The Conjunction with the London Olympics[/url].
Again, look closely about the events that BOOK ENDED the London Olympics, starts with a release of Prometheus, ends with an announcement of Prometheus 2 and a SACRIFICE.
You know, if, "Mankind is but [b]a bridge[/b]," and all that.
2013 sci-fi horror novels 'Custodian' and 'Tandem' available from Amazon, B&N, iTunes etc...
jenskarlssonOvomorphMember0 XPOct-11-2012 5:08 PM
i completely agree with you, sukkal. as you know i am quite interested in linguistics as well, and i would have loved to see more tie in with the language. i too was saddend to learn that the written language(s) in the film were little more than aesthetic gibberish (although they do look pretty cool). but it was nice to learn that Dr Biltoo was hired to envision a PIE like language which ties in real earth linguistics in a believable and somewhat (dare i say) ingenious way.
however, i do kind of feel that on the other hand, the film itself is better without the engineer speaking. i like the engineer depicted as an ambiguous and terrible creator who might have created human beings as an experiment , on a whim, or for any other reason, and who was either on his way to wipe out humans with his cargo of "dna goo" or to modify them in some way that is only hinted at by its effects shown in the film. i like that we didnt receive a subtitle for davids line to the engineer in the theatrical film, and we dont know for sure why he starts killing everyone. i am glad we were able to hear form Dr Biltoo about the language and the translation and it is a shame that so much dialogue was used but then cut from the film, but i do think in the end it made the film "right". this is of course only my opinion, but i really enjoy the ambiguity of the engineers. there could be a lot of things going on there and its left up to us to think about what those things might be.
again, just my opinion, and i do wish there was more of Dr Biltoos Engineer/PIE in the film and that the writing systems would have agreed with it. its always great to see what you have to say about these things and im glad youve participated in these discussions!
i was wondering if linguistics was a hobby of yours or if you were involved on a professional level? if you care to comment on that.
jenskarlssonOvomorphMember0 XPOct-14-2012 9:12 PM
" "Kâm gwhivah-pyorn-îttham vllnaah?" ("How can he want more life?"), "
- if that english translation really would be "how" can he want more life?
then this would be my favourite line in the film. (except its not in the final version of the film, unfortunately).
as i said, im glad the engineers dont speak in the film, but asking it that way ...
almost as if incredulous... like mr weylands whole plan is just utterly ridiculous and foolish -which of course it is- but that the engineer would really just not
be able to fathom "how can he want more life?" i really like this idea.
sukkalOvomorphMember0 XPOct-15-2012 7:10 PM
I am not a pedigreed linguist (with a university degree in linguistics), but I became especially interested in constructed languages that have been created especially for SciFi about 3 years ago in conjunction with the Na’vi language of [i]Avatar[/i]. I am a consultant professionally, so I do all kinds of different projects. I don't have anything in that category of xeno-linguistics to talk about today other than I'm very supportive of the Na’vi-learning community and from a hobby perspective can also communicate in the Golic Vulcan language that has emerged out of the Star Trek fan base. Let's just say that I have lots of irons in lots of different xenolinguistic fires. ;•) Most of my projects for clients are NOT for the entertainment industry, however. I dwell primarily in the world of high-tech market strategy.
Re: your question on "HOW can/does he want more life?"... [b]KÂM[/b] is in fact the question-word, "how?". It still has that phonological flavor in modern Spanish «¿Cómo?» and French « Comment ? » today.
I feel strongly that the Last Engineer speaking as it was originally conceived and filmed would have been very compelling because it explained in and of itself (in what Ian actually said) why he decapitated David and used his head to kill Weyland. But, without the full package, he might as well not speak at all, and that's what happened in the theatrical cut. It seems that Ridley was adamant that there be no subtitles. With that as the case, [and therefore David as the only source of translation], there would have been no way for the last line, the explanatory line to have been interpreted, so the audience would never have understood it in the theater anyway.
The frustrating thing about this kind of situation is that due to the nature of the editing process, "We don't know what we don't know."
I fully understand your point about how the Engineers’ speaking changes their character from the audience's perspective. They simply are not interesting to me personally as monsters. If we can't communicate with them (even as demi-gods), then they might as well by more xenos, or Cuddles, etc. I don't see the point in making them humanoid, giving David a way to communicate with them, and then deciding that they are mute. The thing about fiction, though is that, "It's fiction." The story can become that Ian's character of the Last Engineer is insane, schizophrenic, etc.. Anything is possible moving forward. I just think that some parts of this one were sacrificed to set up the future. That's fine. Just "keep it real" please in the next installment. ;•)
jenskarlssonOvomorphMember0 XPOct-15-2012 9:27 PM
thanks very much for you perspective. i do largely agree with what you are saying. the only point you make that i am not quite on board with is even in the theatrical cut i dont personally read the engineer as just a monster. i see intelligence in his face - in fact for no spoken words in that cut the acting is still quite impressive to me for his part. true that without the words we do not know for sure the reason for his reaction - but -although i had no notion from language of what david asked him when i first saw the film, i had a deduced suspicion as weylands goal was fairly plain. i think it makes enough sense what happens in that scene without the words, and of course lets not get started on the concept that there is plenty of communication between living beings without the need for spoken language (although one can only go so far that way...) -if youve ever been in a relationship you know that a single look can say about a million words right? but seriously, even beyond that...
...anyway that is my personal perception. again, thanks for your thoughts. its good to think about and appreciate these things. i entirely see your point, and i am on the edge of my seat to see what happens next. i have little doubt that in the sequel we will end up having some kind of conversation with engineers as well as whatever created them. i tend to think that the giant "stone?" head is not an engineer but the person or being(s) that they worship or idolize. also its curious to wonder if the fresco/sculpt of the 1979 style alien is meant to have any cultural significance other than just being an homage to mr. Giger.
Mala'kakOvomorphMember0 XPOct-16-2012 10:58 PM
Yes some form of worship or servitude to the head does seem to be implied.
The way the urns are arranged could be almost like offerings or symbolically associated with this head/possible creator, or leader of their culture. I like to think he's a past king that died whose reign they still worship ;-)
And I really think the original Alien design showing up in the stonework can't just be an homage. There's a reason to the question Holloway asks about the temple at the beginning, he's on the right track with asking questions and almost instantly recognizing that their building patterns are more like certain cultures of ancient man, mainly the mysterious early mound builders in South America who predate and were contemporaries with the Inca-- possibly the Inca themselves in some cases before their later pyramid designs come in. There has to be some sort of importance to it all if the Engineers (or whoever built the temple) carved it the way they did. Put a skull/possibly eroded face on top of it.
All over the temple there are dozens upon dozens of archaeological clues that neither of the two archaeologists explore because of the progression of the plot and preoccupation with meeting the culture-- doing some participatory anthro. and getting answers by interacting with the culture instead of asking questions and investigating the culture fully first through the stonework. Y'know what archaeologists should also be considering: the artwork, artifacts and technological capacities of the culture to assess what they're really like.
The fresco/mural/sculptures and embossing must have some significance to their culture and to those who designed it. The mural-- in fact the entire room holds a lot more significance if it's right there in the architecture and was deliberately sculpted that way out of the stone. It definitely implies a few things that archaeologists should be considering but the monstrous forms in our temples and burial mounds are usually seen as part of a myth. Shaw and Holloway don't really know that this is more than mythic depictions or common artwork depicting what the dominant cultural style was. They probably thought it was some sort of abstract artwork, but we know this culture is somewhat involved with those forms. We can recognize immediately that there is a lot more significance to the images therein.
The archaeologists in the story might have thought that it meant something but they didn't have much time to check it out when they were there and don't have all the available information about the Engineers and the Alien species to begin to analyze the mural.
Someone very familiar with how ancient cultures reflect themes through artwork, stonework and hieroglyphs/ logograms and ideograms may be able to tell you that the "hieroglyphs" are not completely meaningless, though they are mainly made up of repeating themes and ideas based on combinations of very ancient symbols. They must have done some consulting for them too. It may not connect to the Engineer's spoken language but there is a meaning there for each symbol individually and the repetition of the symbols all over the place shows the dominant themes in their culture. It's just hard to decipher.
There are many more clues an archaeologist who's watching all this and treating it like a case could tell us about the culture. Simply by asking some of the questions about their technology, artwork, stonework and the context they were found in that Shaw and Holloway do not ask. This is purposeful.
I have a friend who's studied linguistic anthropology that's seen the movie and now the blu ray, and he likes the fact that they at least tried to work out the language properly before it was cut down for the theatrical.
I'm more into ancient symbols and artwork. When you look at the concepts for the Weyland symbol it's clear they were trying to combine it with one of the symbols that shows up in the temple that may denote power coming from above and within.
In this universe someone would have planned and designed the entire thing. If the original Alien elements were a tiny throwaway and not something the viewer is supposed to focus on then I'd say it could possibly be an homage. Because it's in the stonework and connected to their culture any archaeologist might think there's a connection to their cultural identity-systems of power, and what they're all about. There are many clues there that could explain the Engineers' but most are ambiguous and open to interpretation. How humans, or near humans, decorate their space can be an indication of the culture of the time, the artists intent, the artist's reflection of the culture, a relfection of the inner and outer nature of the artist. In short there is usually some sort of intent behind the artwork. Even abstract artwork and stonework can sometimes be said to have subconscious projections into the artwork/space centered around what the focal point of their culture would be. Sometimes art is a deliberate reflection of one aspect of the culture or multiple. Sometimes images and scenes hold more meaning than we think they do at first. And the funny thing is the archaeologists should have been analyzing and cataloging absolutely everything in that room-- however their lack of questioning (relying on David and technology for immediate answers) + the events of the story lead them to miss any clues they could pick up.
It's about what's called the emic vs etic perspective in Archaeology/Anthropology.
It mainly means internal (emic) vs external (etic).
Ideally the emic perspective could give you a lot of direct information about how the culture functions.
However, Archaeologists usually have to examine absolutely everything they can, every artifact and clue, from an etic perspective to reconstruct a story about what the culture was like. This is because the culture is long dead and gone and the entire context of a habitation site or workplace and how it is left has to be completely analyzed to understand what went on in the area and learn more about the occupants/builders.
The archaeologists were seeking to understand the culture from a mainly emic (internal) perspective-- through participating with the culture and interacting with them to learn their ways/why they created us directly like an anthropologist would. As I said usually archaeologists go from an etic (external) perspective and their only window into the emic side of things is through the artifacts, habitation sites themselves, ecofacts, and artwork left behind. So their whole approach is flawed except for Holloway's at the beginning. They weren't seeking to ask the right questions because everyone except Holloway and David seemed convinced they were gods. "Gods don't build in straight lines" or have direct connections to some of our most ancient cultures indicating some form of prolonged interaction and cultural exchange of some sort...
Mala'kakOvomorphMember0 XPOct-16-2012 11:29 PM
Can't edit again... David says it himself in a roundabout way... If Holloway's thesis is correct then he should be able to speak to the Engineers in their language.
What was Holloway's full thesis? Could Holloway have been right about a lot more things, he seemed to know they were not gods...
Even though he may have been partially right, Holloway was going about things the egotistical and hollow way. Seeking the glory of being right and immediate answers from the beings/culture. He starts off alright asking about the temple being hollow and if someone put that there, but he slowly gets influenced by the prospect of meeting the culture alive and then is disappointed when he thinks the room indicates a tomb, just another burial bound-- however now he's wrong and not looking at the evidence enough too. He also instantly assumes that they're all dead. There's a hidden tension between him and Shaw where it's apparent he's not too surprised about the genetic match and the fact they weren't gods. His perspective is slightly different than hers going into it. He really thinks that they're a culture of human-like beings from the very start. Possibly because of the work he handed off to David so that David could recreate the language. Holloway believed they had a much deeper connection to these ancient cultures and was leaning more towards a version of the alien astronaut theory stuff that went into the movie more so than them being gods or true creators.
jenskarlssonOvomorphMember0 XPOct-21-2012 5:34 PM
yes, there are quite a few things only briefly touched upon in the film.
it certainly would be interesting to see what they would have done during more trips back into the alien structure if it hadnt been interrupted by the urgency of the action events of the film... what kind of things would have been reviewed, and discussed by the scientists etc.
as far as Holloways approach,
i think that if a scientist studying an ancient Egyptian temple thought he might actually have the chance to speak to a real Pharoh, he would probably behave a lot more like Holloway did in the film, especially if he then found out that he missed that chance by a few thousand years.
having said that he still is a little extreme but that is the character he is meant to portray, apparently.
caenorhabhditisOvomorphMember0 XPNov-13-2012 7:08 AM
Hey Sukkhal di you know you got a mention in [i]A GRAMMAR OF MODERN INDO-EUROPEAN Prometheus Edition? [size=50][/i] by Carlos Quiles and Fernando López-Menchero Version 5.20_Prometheus (October 2012) ISBN-13: 978-1480049765 | ISBN-10: 148004976X[/size]
[i]"About these changes in the dialogue, a consultant with connections to the film[/i]
[i](nicknamed[b] Sukkal[/b]), who published these comments online in the [b]Prometheus official forum[/b], said: “I don't know why they didn’t just use [the original dialogue]. It makes perfect sense and Weyland then explains the answers... Who knows... Finally the Engineer would have said another line that I think Ridley wanted completely struck due to the philosophical background “change of heart.” That line also explains logically why the Engineer used David’s head to kill Weyland, but in the Director’s Commentary, Ridley has simply explained that the Engineer was offended by being talked to by “technology”... When David says: “...He asked why.” That was originally true even in [the original script], but David may not have wanted to translate the part re: “Who can be that arrogant?” Ridley's commentary does suggest that David is much more ‘evil’ than I personally would want him to be. Of course, Weyland is evil, so like father like son. (…)[/i] [b]it takes a bit of patience its quite heavy reading but it fully details the meaning of all the PIE dialogue used and unused in the script..... also tells us the proposed word for 'Paradise' Urnaja! pron. oornaiyah cool eh?[/b]
I LIKE WORMS! I LOVE WORMS!
Indy JohnOvomorphMember0 XPNov-13-2012 11:16 AM
"..archaeologists should have been analyzing and cataloging absolutely everything in that room--"
I noted the pups were used to extensivly map out the pyramids. Could additional Davids(of any generation)/modified pups have been used to ar least photograph the room from many different angles..
If the data was collected this way it could have sent off moon for later detailed analysis at a better equiped Weyland location.
I know it is only a movie,,isn't it?
Be choicelessly aware as you move through life
Indy JohnOvomorphMember0 XPDec-19-2012 3:29 PM
I I only understand English and didn't understand any of the Engineer's language.
If the Engineer's language was printed would I recognize any English related words ot symbols?
Be choicelessly aware as you move through life