Wednesday, March 2, 2011



Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life:
  • No wonder we can't get a handle on the Libyan situation: We can't even agree on how to spell the Main Man's name. As a matter of fact, neither can he! 
  • Libya's Brother Leader lets a hundred flowers bloom, the Christian Science Monitor reports. The banner at the top of his official website spells it, "AL Gathafi." But on the same site you'll also see it variously rendered as "Al Qaddafi," "Algathafi" and "Al-Gathafi."
  • And that's just the surname. Variations on his given name, says the Monitor, include Muammar, Moammar, Mu'ammar and Moamar and many others.
  • Once you've settled on how to spell his first and last names, you then have to decide whether you want to add the Arabic prefix "al-" before his last name. Which can also be spelled "el-." And then you have to decide whether the prefix should be capitalized.  
  • For those few brave editors who press on, the result is a multiplicity of spellings. The Associated Press, CNN and MSNBC spell it "Moammar Gadhafi." The New York Times spells it "Muammar el-Qaddafi." At the Los Angeles Times, it's "Moammar Kadafi." Reuters, the Guardian and the BBC go with "Muammar Gaddafi." The Irish Times goes with "Muammar Gadafy." ABC News--which spells it "Moammar Gaddafi"--has posted a list of 112 variations on the English spelling of the Libyan strongman's name.
  • The Christian Science Monitor goes with "Muammar Qaddafi," a spelling that is no more or less defensible than anyone else's.
  • According to Dr. Ahmed Ferhadi, Director of the Arabic Program at NYU: “Based on the structure and pronunciation of this Arabic name, its English transliteration should be Qaddafi. The variation Qadhafi is fine, too.”
  • More on this story as it develops, dwindles or disappears.