But we will still use it the wrong way anyway because, well, it’s been 50 years.
This is the 50th anniversary (July 2019) of the Apollo Moon landing when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Lightyear* and Michael Collins travelled to the Moon and made history in July of 1969.
Never before, since the dawn of man, has anything so monumental occurred. Human beings have left the confines of Earth flown through space, and walked on another celestial body.
So, what did the media get wrong? When Neil Armstrong stepped off the LEM footpad and onto the surface of the moon, he utter the most famous phrase of all time: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The problem is that Neil insists that he said “…for a man,…” and not what the media recorded as him saying. Now, there are loads of this famous recordings all over the internet that you can listen to yourself, and as far as I can tell, Neil said one small step for man. But there is still a problem with the whole phrase and I believe Neil had fully thought out what he was going to say when he first places his foot on the surface of the Moon well before even getting out of the LEM.
Neil is a decorated pilot, an astronaut, and an incredibly smart man, thorough, calculating, precise and daring. He’s never turned down a challenge, and yet he is still human. He simply got excited (I mean hell, who wouldn’t) about walking on the Moon and being the first human to ever do so, and even miss-spoke the words he had planned to say during that monumental event.
Neil likely deliberated on the exact phrase for some time to make sure he “got it right” because this would be the moment that he would live with for the rest of his life and would be recorded in history forever. It makes perfect sense and grammatically correct to say “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” whereas the now recorded in the history books phrase is without the “a” and grammatically incorrect. Neil was excited, he rehearsed it and still was so excited he left the a out when it was time for recording the moment for the world…Live.
So in the beginning of this article I stated “since the dawn of man” which refers to all man kind. The beginning, the sudden existence of human beings we call man, or mankind. Using the two words interchangeably is correct because they mean the same thing, in context. When referring to man, we refer to all of mankind, men, women, children all human beings as a whole. SO when Neil was putting his phrase together, he was quite correct to say a small step for a man (alone) because it was only from the LEM’s footpad to a place a few inches over to the surface of the Moon, a very relatively small step for a man to make. But when you hurry through speaking the phrase and you accidentally leave the a out, well then now it doesn’t make any sense. Man and Mankind mean the same thing, so how can it be a small step for man [mankind] and one giant leap for mankind [man] at the same time? It just doesn’t make the perfect sense like I am sure Neil intended to the phrase to be.
In conclusion, we may be hearing it wrong, or Neil just made a hurried and excited mistake, but either way the media recorded it the way they heard it and we are now using a phrase that is grammatically incorrect and quite possibly not what was actually said.
What do you think? Tell me in your comments below.
*Buzz Lightyear is actually Buzz Aldrin