English spellcheck 'to blame for statue typos'

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The memorial to the 'Pelle Group' in Oslo. Photo: Berit Roald/Scanpix
17:12 CET+01:00
A row has broken out after it emerged that a monument in Oslo to Norwegian wartime resistance fighters was covered in typos. The designer says her use of English spellcheck is partly to blame.

The memorial was unveiled in November, and honours members of the communist ‘Pelle Group’, whose achievements included the blowing up of six ships and one shipyard crane in 1944. The monument at Aker Brygge in Oslo, close to the scene of their attacks, was seen as belated recognition for the group.

But now it is under attack for a series of typos: the word ‘fellesskap’ (community) has been spelt ‘felleskap’. ‘Oslo-området’ (the Oslo area) is missing a ’t’. Some periods have been placed where they should not be, other periods are missing, according to Aftenposten.

“It’s particularly unfortunate when spelling mistakes are made on signs and statues which many people will see and which will be around for a long time,” Botlov Helleland, language expert at Oslo University, to Aftenposten.

Artist Kirsten Kokkin said the misspelling of ‘felleskap’ was due to her using an English-language spellcheck.

“I was working on the text in the US, and I didn’t have a Norwegian word-processing programme. The text has been checked by three people other than me. So it was a mistake, but it can’t be changed after the event,” she told Aftenposten.

Other errors, however, she put down to artistic expression:

“I didn’t want to use too many characters… we shouldn’t forget that this is a work of art, an artistic retelling of a historic moment in time. It shouldn’t be thought of as a document,” she said.

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