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Dutch? Danish? They do both start with D...

March 13, 2012 |  2:20 pm


Dutch2 Wooden-shoes


Denmark1 Danish-modern

A For the Record item in Tuesday’s Times sounded familiar to newsroom library director Cary Schneider.

The correction, on the Op-Ed page, read:

Free speech: A March 9 Op-Ed about the erosion of free-speech protections referred to a controversy over 2005 cartoons that satirized the prophet Muhammad. Those cartoons were Danish, not Dutch.

That prompted him to do what any curious researcher might: He looked up previous instances of Danish/Dutch confusion.

He found an unfortunate trend:

For the Record, Feb. 23, 2011

"Anna Nicole" review: In a review of the new opera "Anna Nicole" in the Feb. 19 Calendar section, soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek, who sang Anna, was described as Danish. She is Dutch.

For the Record, Sept. 25, 2010

Kay Bojesen: A Sept. 11 brief on the new L.A. store Mine cited a 1950s-era wooden monkey by Dutch designer Kay Bojesen. Bojesen was Danish, not Dutch.

For the Record, Nov. 19, 2009

Viggo Mortensen: An article in Wednesday's Envelope on actor Viggo Mortensen said he is from Dutch parentage. Mortensen is from Danish parentage.

For the Record, Sept. 2, 2009

Flying Pigeon: An article in Tuesday's Business section about the Flying Pigeon LA bicycle shop, which sells Chinese and Dutch bikes, was accompanied by a box labeled "At a glance" that incorrectly described the Dutch bikes as Danish.

For the Record, Dec. 2, 2006:

The pope in Turkey: An article in Thursday's Section A about Pope Benedict XVI's plea for Christian unity misidentified as Dutch the controversial newspaper cartoons satirizing the prophet Muhammad. They were originally published in Denmark.

For the Record, Oct. 9, 2006:

Karen Blixen: An item in the Screening Room column in Thursday's Calendar Weekend about the L.A. premiere of the documentary "Karen Blixen, Out of This World" referred to Blixen as a Dutch writer. She was Danish.

Assistant Managing Editor Henry Fuhrmann, who supervises The Times' copy editors, was chagrined by the repeated error.

"One aspect of good editing is what I think of as pattern recognition: knowing the quirks of a particular writer, the nuances of a certain subject, the grammatical and factual errors that come up time and time again," Fuhrmann said. "Here, though, the pattern defies explanation."

"Errors of this sort are always a good reminder that we can be more diligent," he said. "We truly have nothing against the Danes (or the Dutch)."

-- Deirdre Edgar

Dutch photos: At left, a canal in Amsterdam, Netherlands. At right, wooden shoes on sale for tourists. Credits: Los Angeles Times

Danish photos: At left, a neighborhood in Copenhagen, Denmark. Credit: Bloomberg. At right: Danish modern furniture. Credit: Los Angeles Times