“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”

Discussion in 'English Only' started by . 1, Oct 15, 2006.

  1. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    I remember listening to a slightly crackly transmission from Neil Armstrong on The Moon when he said,
    “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”
    I was transfixed and remember the words as clear as a bell.
    In the weeks and months that followed there were all sorts of stories that Mr. Armstrong was in deep trouble Official Trouble because he had been warned to stick to the script as written and say,
    “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”
    The School Grapevine was adamant that he was in trouble because he was seen to have been egotistical and that he could not speak for the whole of the current population of the world by saying,
    “That’s one small step for man,”
    because this would include the Russians and not limit the achievements to an American supported by good old American know-how.
    We were all of the opinion that Mr. Armstrong knew exactly what he was saying and that he did it intentionally to acknowledge the efforts and achievements of the Soviet Cosmonauts that contributed to the eventual American success.
    N.A.S.A. initially came out with stories that there was a mysterious piece of static that blotted out the ‘a’.
    N.A.S.A. recently claimed that computer analysis revealed that the ‘a’ had been said so quickly that it was inaudible to the human ear.
    A short time ago Mr. Armstrong was being honoured at a ceremony or something and was played a recording of his words and no matter how slowly the recording was played there was clearly no static and no ‘a’.
    Mr. Armstrong is said to have admitted that he said,
    That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

    I have three questions.
    1. What is the difference in meaning between the two sentences?
    2. Do you believe that Neil Armstrong intentionally said what he said.?
    3. If the answer to (2.) is yes, what were his motives?

  2. JamesM

    JamesM Senior Member

    1. "One smal step for man" means all mankind, to me. It makes the whole quote redundant. "One small step for A man" means one small step for an individiual. I beleve only the second version makes sense.
    2. No, I do not believe he intentionally said it. I believe he flubbed the line.

    Incidentally, who's the "we" and the "School Grapevine" in your statement?
  3. chesty Senior Member


    (2). I think he fluffed his lines.

    (1). That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

    Seeing as Man (without the article 'a') = Mankind, there is a clear internal contradiction.
  4. Heba

    Heba Senior Member

    Coventry, England
    Egypt, Arabic
    1. ''That’s one small step for a man'' , he means himself only, I guess''That’s one small step for man'', he means mankind
    2. No, I do not think that he said it intentionally.
    I think that if I were in his place, I would only enjoy the moment without thinking of anything about Russia, America and people down there on the Earth. I believe that is what he did.
  5. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    I, too, have heard the contradictory issues revolving around Armstrong's famous quote and I believe that he flubbed the line. As JamesM has said, "one small step for man" means mankind, making the second part of the quote redundant. Amazing how much controversy can swirl around such an issue... I've always figured that if he had a case of the nerves and flubbed the line, who could blame him? :D
  6. JamesM

    JamesM Senior Member

    Absolutely, given that, at the time, they were not sure he wouldn't sink into the Moon's surface like a man swallowed by a dusty form of quicksand. He was also dealing with 1/6th Earth gravity, completely new technology in his spacesuit (which weighed a ridiculous amount), and probably the biggest case of nerves experienced by a human being to date. I'm impressed that he got anything out at all. :)
  7. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    This conversation takes me back to that night so many years ago. Those of us of a certain age who were fortunate enough to have televisions were witnesses to a magical moment. I'd forgotten about their fear that he might just sink out of sight until you reminded me of it, James. Now I'm even more convinced it was just a flub!:)
  8. ChrissyH Member

    S. W. France
    English England
    There is a clear difference in the two sentences - here man without the article "a" and mankind are synonyms; "a man" would refer to Armstrong himself, which was obviously the intended meaning. However, I too believe it was the emotion of the moment that caused him to "gulp" the article - and, frankly, who can blame him. Even the most professional of actors, which he is not, can fluff their lines and he sure had a big audience on that day! It's rather interesting to note that in French the famous quote has been translated with the mistake intact. :) Even more interesting is the number of people, both French and English, who have never noticed the mistake :) :) I wonder if the mistake has been translated in other languages?
  9. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    Me and my mates at school. The School Grapevine is the rumour mill at school and it is the only form of communication that travels faster than the speed of light.


Share This Page