7.20.2011

Colonel Whatshisname?

The man of the hour (or should I say past six months?) himself, either brushing up on his revolutionary ideas from his very own Green Book or on a publicity tour (my bet is on the latter).
 Qaddafi has been one (un)popular man/dictator/leader these past few months. After ruling for over 40 blissful years, creating a guidebook to revolutionary politics, making public scenes by insisting on living in a tent, and having an arrest warrant put on his head by the ICC, Qaddafi might soon be meeting his end (at least as a dictator because, if you haven't noticed, dictators haven't been to popular in the Middle East and North Africa recently). He has been fodder for the press ever since the Middle East revolutions began. "Slow news day? Thankfully there's Qaddafi!". He and his wife narrowly escaped the April 30th airstrikes that killed one of his sons and three of his grandchildren (which I don't condone - in my eyes they were innocent and should have been off-limits) - so to say the least, it has been a hell of a few months for this poor old chap. 

But along with his 6 months of fame comes much confusion. How the heck do you spell his name? I have a feeling that every news station has their own way of spelling his name. I don't know if they have a nom-de-jour for him or what, but is confusing. At first I self diagnosed myself with schizophrenia, but after doing a bit of research, it looks like I'm not the only one perplexed by Qaddafi's personality crisis. So let's try to break this down together why don't we:

His official Arabic name is  مُعَمَّر ٱلْقَذَّافِيّ. If you prefer to be formal, you can call him by his honorable title, "Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya" (really, he isn't full of himself). With the many transliterations of Arabic sounds and letters, Qaddafi's English spelling of his name remains a mystery. This picture from Spell Dictator does a good job at visually showing how each letter of his Arabic name could be translated differently:

This shows that if you multiply each possible transliteration of each Arabic letter of his name, there are 645,120 different ways of spelling Qaddafi. Confusing, right?!
To clear things up, ABC news released a list of just 112 different spellings for Qaddafi. Even the Library of Congress is confused because they mention 72 different alternatives!

Unless Qaddafi himself comes out with a statement informing us of his preferred English spelling of his name, chances are good that we'll never come to a consensus on how to translate it. So, to celebrate the many different personalities of the man himself, I leave you with a few of my favorite spellings:

  • Mu'Ammar El Qathafi
  • Mu'ammar Qadhdhafi
  • Mulazim Awwal Mu'ammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi
  • Muammar Khaddafi
  • Muammar  Al-Qadhafi
  • Muammar el Gaddafy
  • Omar Al Qathafi
  • Muammar  Al-Gathafi 
  • Muammar  Al-Qadhafi

Please note that even his official website (a must-have for any 21st century dictator) does not have a definitive answer for us because it too uses many different spellings. Unfortunately, his contact us page is "coming soon" so we'll have to wait before emailing, tweeting, and facebooking him. 
Personally, I'm just a fan of him because he looks strikingly similar to Bono. Who is impersonating who here?

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