Armstrong’s Quote: Right After All?

By Deane Barker on September 30, 2006

Speech software finds missing ‘a’ in astronaut Armstrong’s famous quote: Some guy digitally analyzed the statement Neil Armstrong when he stepped on the moon. He concludes that Armstrong didn’t hose the most important quote of his life.

Some historians and critics have dogged Armstrong for not saying the more dramatic and grammatically correct, “One small step for a man …” in the version he transmitted to NASA’s Mission Control. Without the missing “a,” Armstrong essentially said, “One small step for mankind, one giant leap for mankind.”

The famous astronaut has maintained he intended to say it properly and believes he did. Thanks to some high-tech sound-editing software, computer programmer Peter Shann Ford might have proved Armstrong right.

Ford said he downloaded the audio recording of Armstrong’s words from a NASA website and analyzed the statement with software that allows disabled people to communicate through computers using their nerve impulses.

In a graphical representation of the famous phrase, Ford said he found evidence that the missing “a” was spoken and transmitted to NASA.

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Comments

  1. If you listen to the original transmission. In the speed of the spoken sentence there is no room, time wise, for the enunciation of an “a” between the words “for” and “man”.

  2. I tend to agree. I’ve listened to it, and I just can’t see how this can go missing for this long.

    It’s too bad. Armstrong’s gaff is a once in a lifetime thing, and it was a great quote.

  3. I think it’s possible for the “a” to fit in there. I can see how he could slur the “a” with the tail end of “for”. The actual enunciation is not so much “fore ay man”, which would take longer to enunciate, but more like “furuh man”. And there definitely is static precisely between “for” and “man”.

  4. Peter Shann Ford’s “analysis” of Neil Armstrong’s moon landing speech is completely unscientific, and not a proof at all (and Peter is more a CEO and ex news anchorman than computer programmer). (1). No speech researcher would make a scientific claim using Goldwave software, they would more likely use Matlab or Praat, other software. (2). The audio used was 11.025 kHz, 8 bit quality. (3). The “control phrase” (for mankind) has shorter syllables because it has more of them. (4). Peter Shann Ford didn’t use the first tool of any speech researcher – the spectrogram. (5). Peter’s “research” was reviewed by an astronaut who emphasised the finding was “persuasive”, and “Ms. Rano Singh, a Physiotherapist with a Masters in Biomechanics”. (6). The mouth diagram is from a description of Korean alveolars, and Korean does not have the American English approximant /r/. (this point from http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003639.html#more) (7). There was no peer review by real speech analysis researchers. I believe the whole thing to be a dodgy publicity stunt for Peter Shann Ford and his Control Bionics company. Read more here: http://blog.soundsorange.net

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