Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Native Ohioans' speaking patterns help scientists decipher famous moon landing quote

Date:
May 30, 2013
Source:
Acoustical Society of America (ASA)
Summary:
Speech scientists and psychologists discuss a novel approach to deciphering Armstrong’s famous moon landing quote.

When Neil Armstrong took his first step on the Moon, he claimed he said, "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" -- but many listeners think he left out the "a." A team of speech scientists and psychologists from Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing and The Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus is taking a novel approach to deciphering Armstrong's quote by studying how speakers from his native central Ohio pronounce "for" and "for a."

Their results suggest that it is entirely possible that Armstrong said what he claimed, though evidence indicates that people are statistically more likely to hear "for man" instead of "for a man" on the recording.

The team will present its work at the 21st International Congress on Acoustics (ICA 2013), held June 2-7 in Montreal.

Armstrong was raised in central Ohio, where there is typically a lot of blending between words such as "for" and "a." "Prior acoustic analyses of Neil Armstrong's recording have established well that if the word 'a' was spoken, it was very short and was fully blended acoustically with the preceding word," says co-presenter Laura Dilley of Michigan State University. If Armstrong actually did say "a," she continues, it sounded something like "frrr(uh)." His blending of the two words, compounded with the poor sound quality of the transmission, has made it difficult for people to corroborate his claim that the "a" is there.

Dilley and her colleagues, who include MSU linguist Melissa Baese-Berk and OSU psychologist Mark Pitt, thought they might be able to figure out what Armstrong said with a statistical analysis of the duration of the "r" sound as spoken by native central Ohioans saying "for" and "for a" in natural conversation. They used a collection of recordings of conservational speech from 40 people raised in Columbus, Ohio, near Armstrong's native town of Wapakoneta. Within this body of recordings, they found 191 cases of "for a." They matched each of these to an instance of "for" as said by the same speaker and compared the relative duration. They also examined the duration of Armstrong's "for (a") from the lunar transmission.

The researchers found a large overlap between the relative duration of the "r" sound in "for" and "for a" using the Ohio speech data. The duration of the "frrr(uh)" in Armstrong's recording was 0.127 seconds, which falls into the middle of this overlap, though it is a slightly better match for an "a"-less "for." In other words, the researchers conclude, the lunar landing quote is highly compatible with either possible interpretation, though it is probably slightly more likely to be perceived as "for" regardless of what Armstrong actually said. Dilley says there may have been a "perfect storm of conditions" for the word "a" to have been spoken but not heard.

"We've bolstered Neil Armstrong's side of the story," she continues. "We feel we've partially vindicated him. But we'll most likely never know for sure exactly what he said based on the acoustic information."

Beyond shedding light on the famous quote, the work has implications for understanding how people perceive meaning in spoken language. "Every time we listen to speech and think we understand a sentence, we are performing a miraculous task, which is to take what is actually a continuous acoustic signal, break up that signal into somewhat arbitrary parts, and map those parts to our memories of all the words that we know in the language," Dilley says. "We need only look at computer speech recognition and how it succeeds and how it largely often fails to see how very difficult that problem is."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Acoustical Society of America (ASA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Acoustical Society of America (ASA). "Native Ohioans' speaking patterns help scientists decipher famous moon landing quote." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130530152840.htm>.
Acoustical Society of America (ASA). (2013, May 30). Native Ohioans' speaking patterns help scientists decipher famous moon landing quote. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130530152840.htm
Acoustical Society of America (ASA). "Native Ohioans' speaking patterns help scientists decipher famous moon landing quote." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130530152840.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) — Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) — Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) — Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins