Requiem for ‘Q’ or is it ‘K’ or ‘G’ ?

Not too long ago The Christian Science Monitor was in an editorial quandary over how to name the notorious ruler of Libya, “Blame it on the name of the country’s head of state, Colonel Gaddafi. Wait, no, that’s Kaddafi. Or maybe it’s Qadhafi. Tell you what, we’ll just call him by his first name, which is, er … hoo boy.”

Now the question is: How to headline all those Ever Colonel’s obituaries? Even worse, what about the cacophony of post-Google searches muddling the cyberaftermath of his death?

According to The Monitor: “part of the problem here is that there’s no universally accepted authority for transliterating Arabic names. Normally, news outlets will just go with whatever spelling the subject prefers, but this particular subject hasn’t settled on a single Roman orthography for his name.”

Now too late to ask, we can ponder what slate he might offer up in the Apropro Afterlife (?). Just consider what was previously listed on Libya’s official website alone:

  • AL Gathafi
  • Al Qaddafi
  • Algathafi
  • Al-Gathafi. “Adding to the multitude of his spellings is the increasingly ironically named “Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights.”

The Monitor continues: “And that’s just the surname. Variations on his given name include Muammar, Moammar, Mu’ammar, and Moamar, etc.. 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.”

Top contenders, in brief, have been: At CNN, AP, etc. it’s 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 (the rather wacky)”Muammar Gadafy.” And, finally, ABC News – which spells it “Moammar Gaddafi” – has posted a list of 112 variations (!) on the English spelling of the Libyan dictator’s name.

The Christian Science Monitor itself goes with “Muammar Qaddafi,” (see full story) “a spelling that is no more or less defensible than anyone else’s.”

No matter how you spell the man’s to me, I’m glad he’s history. During the fallout of this year’s Arab Spring, Moammar “Mad Dog” Q.K.G.’s military forces captured, jailed, and beat up a longtime ex-boyfriend of mine, photojournalist Joe Raedle.

Then el Colonel changed his mind, and let him go.  At least on that he could decide, with a right mind.


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