Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Neil Armstrong---Small Step for a Man

Dear Madame L,

I keep reading that Neil Armstrong didn't really say, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." People are saying he left out the "a" and really said, "one small step for man," etc.

Can you find out what he really said?



Astronaut Neil Armstrong After Completing the Moon Walk (NASA via Reuters)

Dear Moon-struck,

Neil Armstrong himself said repeatedly over his lifetime that he DID put that "a" in there, and that the people who say otherwise are misquoting him.

And NASA has stood by him, as the Washington Post reports, saying, “If Neil Armstrong says there was an ‘a,’ then as far as we’re concerned, there was ‘a.’” 

"Peter Shann Ford, an Australia-based computer programmer, conducted a digital audio analysis and claims that Armstrong did, in fact, say "a man", but the "a" was inaudible due to the limitations of communications technology of the time. Ford and James R. Hansen, Armstrong's authorized biographer, presented these findings to Armstrong and NASA representatives, who conducted their own analysis. The article by Ford, however, is published on Ford's own web site rather than in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and linguists David Beaver and Mark Liberman wrote of their skepticism of Ford's claims on the blog Language Log. Although Armstrong found Ford's analysis "persuasive", he expressed his preference that written quotations include the "a" in parentheses."

Madame L says that if Neil Armstrong says he said it, then he said it. That broadcast is full of blips and silences and even places where news commentator Walter Cronkite is so busy talking that he and we missed out on what just happened.

Check out this page for more "myths" (or, as Madame L prefers to call them, lies) that have been told over the years to detract from or belittle the life and accomplishments of the great Neil Armstrong.                        

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