October 15, 2005

What Kind of Error?

A CBC News article about a Danish newspaper's solicitation and publication of pictures of the Muslim prophet Mohammed contains the following interesting error:

Flemming Rose, cultural editor, denied the newspaper was being provocative. Instead, the call for pictures was a reaction to the rising number of situations in which artists and writers censure themselves out of fear of radical Islamists, he said, according to Jyllands-Posten.

The correct word is of course censor; censure means "to criticize" with connotations of "strongly", "harshly", or "officially". I'm a bit surprised to see this sort of error in a news article as one expects journalists to have a large vocabulary, but what I find more interesting is the question of what sort of error it is. Does the author (or possibly editor) not know the difference between the two words, or is it a spelling error?

[Addendum: Reader Gaston Dorren suggests a third possibility, namely that the article, or the statement by Flemming Rose, was translated from a Danish original and that the translator mistakenly carried over into English the Danish verb censurere. That's quite possible, though it still leaves the question of why the presumably native-English-speaking editor didn't catch it.]

Posted by Bill Poser at October 15, 2005 11:16 AM