Monday, October 02, 2006

One Step For Man, One Step Back for Grammar

Vodkapundit has a post up about the latest 'revelation' concerning (a) man's first steps on the moon. Source Article HERE
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."
-"Research"? You call this research? Pfft!

First, there is a saying in web development that applies to any 'content providing' activity: "If the person can't find 'it' -- 'it' isn't there". Since none of us can find the 'missing a' with our ears, it wasn't spoken.

Second, I don't care how whiz-bang, or exotic a new and improved a pile of software is, if it is used to process a forty-plus year old chunk of audiotape, recorded in space, by a man working in a clumsy pressurized spacesuit, in an environment never before encountered by him or any other human being, as he plopped down 'to moon' off of a landing step -- it cannot be used to positively or even probably identify and discriminate the letter 'a', allegedly 'spoken' too fast to hear, from any other audible possibilities including a suppressed grunt, groan, hard swallow, or whatever.

And finally, as a ninth-grader who watched the event as it was transmitted to Earth, the original, accepted, and recognizable phrasing was so pure and so true to my heart, that sticking an unvoiced 'a' in the middle of it is akin to adding a few lines to the Gettysburg Address for laughs. Let the grammarians cavil over the differences between man and mankind, but to those of us who witnessed the images as we received them with those words, it was clear 'man' meant 'ANY man' and mankind meant 'ALL men'. So what if it isn't grammatically correct? It is great poetry!

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