Tarzan Lands on the Moon

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I’m sure when the Chinese land on the moon the first man down the ladder will not sound like Tarzan the way Neil Armstrong did. The Chinese written language is thousands of years old. Their most famous poet lived 1400 years ago, and his most famous poem, memorized by every child in China–and many adults can recite it–was a four line stanza about moonlight at the foot of the bed and memories of far off home. The moon is pretty far from home, so the lucky Taikonaut might take a line from it.

However, the Chinese language has no definite or indefinite article, so Chinese students rarely use them when they speak English, so they wouldn’t have had any trouble understanding Neil when he hit the moon. But for native speakers, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” saying “man” without the indefinite article means “mankind.” What he said made no sense except to the Chinese, and probably to Tarzan because I’ve heard Tarzan talk and he never uses the indefinite article either, and his English is even worse than the Chinese: “Jane not home. One small step for friend chimpanzee, one giant leap for chimpanzeekind.”

I’ve always imagined that Neil had a full two weeks sitting around and gazing out of the window of his little spaceship to come up with something clever to say when he got to the moon, and what he finally did say was pretty lame–and it wasn’t even true. “For mankind”? Tell that to the Russians. It was a race, remember? And if it was for mankind, why didn’t the Americans share their technology with them and the rest of the human race? But, no, Neil wasn’t talking about that mankind, he was talking about the other mankind that heeded America.

I would have loved to hear Neil say something a little more original or indicative of the time:

“Wow! That’s like one-hundred giant steps for America, and you commies had better start counting the days before Christmas, because you’ll be lucky to ever see one again.”

or:

“Mother, may I take one small step? Yes, you may.”

or better yet:

“Buzz, may I take one small step?”

“Yes, you may, Neil, you ham.”

or:

“My right boot just stepped on the moon. Do I have a bid?”

Please, please, I’m not a comedian. Add your best shot in the comments as to what Neil Armstrong should have said when he stepped on the moon.

“Can you believe it? I stepped in dog poop!”

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About soaringdragons

Twenty years and still alive--in China, that is. I write about China and the world of spirit--all very non-expertly--and whatever else strikes my fancy. You'll find posts on even days of the month.
This entry was posted in Living in the Universe and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Tarzan Lands on the Moon

  1. What a great web log. I spend hours on the net reading blogs, about tons of various subjects. I have to first of all give praise to whoever created your theme and second of all to you for writing what i can only describe as an fabulous article. I honestly believe there is a skill to writing articles that only very few posses and honestly you got it. The combining of demonstrative and upper-class content is by all odds super rare with the astronomic amount of blogs on the cyberspace.

  2. soaringdragons says:

    Thanks for your very kind words about the look of my blog and my writing. I appreciate it very much. The header is a photo a friend took in Thailand, and others have commented on it. Take care.

  3. sillionshine says:

    An interesting article which may vindicate Mr. Armstrong:
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4225856.html

    • soaringdragons says:

      In the time of Abraham Lincoln if a politician got up to give a speech everyone knew to bring sandwiches and lemonade because it would be at least an hour, maybe two, before the speech would end. That’s why people were put out when Abe hardly got started on his Gettysburg Address and suddenly sat down–they had to lug all that stuff back home.

      Imagine, for the sake of argument, if Abe had spoken all of the 256 words in a mere 35 milliseconds just like Neil Armstrong, the guests, mouths open, staring up at the President who for all appearances simply walked up to the podium and then turned around and sat back down, would have looked at each other and said, “Did you hear him say anything, Ma?” “No, Pa, not a word.”

      I really had no idea that there was a “controversy” about whether or not Neil had spoken the absentee “a,” but I’m glad that technologies 40 years after the fact have discovered that he did, in fact, say it. Still, he’s going to have to learn how to stretch out his vowels a little bit if he wants to get credit for them.

      Thanks very much for sending along the article. Come back anytime!

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