So, it seems that Neil Armstrong did use correct grammar when he uttered one of the most famous phrases in human history. For decades since Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon, we have heard the exuberant message Armstrong sent out to us earthlings worded as: "...One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
For nearly four decades, Armstrong's words have qualified as one giant grammatical misspeak heard around the world. The correct version should have been: "...One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." It was assumed that Armstrong forgot the "a" in his excitement and his historical statement is often quoted with a parenthetical "a".
But Armstrong has insisted that he probably had transmitted the correct grammatical phrase to NASA's Mission Control and that the "a" just got lost in transmission. Recent high tech audio analysis of the message from the moon vindicates Armstrong's claim that he did indeed utter the all important "a."
(The photo shows Buzz Aldrin photographed on the moon by Neil Armstrong)
One small step for clarity
Researcher discovers that Neil Armstrong had not only the RIGHT IDEA, but the RIGHT WORDS
"High-tech detective work apparently has found the missing "a" in one of the most famous phrases ever spoken.
Astronaut Neil Armstrong's first words from the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969, now can be confidently recast, according to the research, as "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." It is the more dramatic and grammatically correct phrasing that Armstrong, 76, has often said was the version he transmitted to NASA's Mission Control for broadcast to worldwide television.
With the technology of the 1960s, however, his global audience heard his comment without the "a," making it "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
The discrepancy has been widely debated for years by historians, academics and fans of space travel, with the "a" sometimes appearing in parentheses in government documents and Armstrong being listed on unofficial Web sites as being guilty of a momentous flub.
The missing word was found this month in a software analysis of Armstrong's famous phrase by Peter Shann Ford, a Sydney, Australia-based computer programmer. Ford's company, Control Bionics, specializes in helping physically handicapped people use their nerve impulses to communicate through computers.
"I have reviewed the data and Peter Ford's analysis of it, and I find the technology interesting and useful," Armstrong said in a statement. "I also find his conclusion persuasive. Persuasive is the appropriate word."
According to Ford, Armstrong spoke, "One small step for a man ... " in a total of 35 milliseconds, 10 times too fast for the "a" to be audible. The "a" was transmitted, though, and can be verified in an analysis using Canadian sound-editing software called GoldWave, Ford said.
Critics have suggested that Armstrong either botched a missive written for him by a government official ahead of his lunar step or that the poor wording was a sign of his lack of awareness of its significance.
However, Armstrong told biographer Hansen that he composed the phrase during the six hours and 40 minutes between his drama-tinged landing and the time he and Apollo 11 crewmate Buzz Aldrin emerged from their lander, Eagle, to walk on the moon. In the 2005 book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, Armstrong told Hansen that others have pointed out that he can often be heard dropping the vowels from his speech in his radio transmissions.
"It doesn't sound like there was time for the word to be there," Armstrong said in the book. "On the other hand, I didn't intentionally make an inane statement, and ... certainly the 'a' was intended, because that's the only way the statement makes any sense.
"So I would hope that history would grant me leeway for dropping the syllable and understand that it was certainly intended, even if it wasn't said — although it might actually have been."