In response to Barbara Balseiro’s letter to the editor Wednesday, and her dismay that Leif Ericson’s name is misspelled around Astoria, the Ear humbly submits there’s good reason for confusion. As George Heiner once asked, after taking the photos shown, “Will the real Leif Lief Erickson Erikson please stand up?”
Well, the Norwegian Viking Network says it’s spelled Leif Ericsson. The Leif Erikson International Foundation thinks they’ve got the spelling pegged, too. BBC History agrees, but says it’s also spelled Leif Ericsson, or Leif Eiriksson, but they’re not Scandinavians. The Sons of Norway Blog says it’s Leif Eriksson.
One writer at NorwegianAmerican.com agrees it’s Eriksson, and insists that “… using Latin ‘c’ (in the name) is the most removed from the Norse, and the least authentic,” and there should be two “s”es, i.e. Erick’s son. That makes sense, anyway.
Let’s not even get into the way the explorer’s name would be spelled in Iceland, where he was born.
Back to Astoria. The Ear wondered if maybe the street was named for a distinguished Scandinavian citizen instead of the Norse explorer. Nope, not likely, says Liisa Penner, archivist at the Clatsop County Historical Society. She sent this quote from the Sons of Norway membership history for the Nidaros Lodge No. 60:
“In 1934, when Astoria was looking for a name for the highway leading into Astoria from the east, the lodge sponsored a drive to name it the Leif Erikson. A mass meeting was held at the Odd Fellows Hall, to which the press was invited. Rev. M.A. Christensen was the main speaker and Hans Lovvold acted as chairman for the committee. The name was approved by the City Council.” Apparently some of the local sign painters didn’t get the memo, or the spelling, either.
So, the answer to how to correctly spell the Nordic hero’s name is: There is no definitive answer.