bobnboguslavski.com Blogs - News

View All Blog Posts

Bookmark and Share
Subject: Amman #52 - Spelling that guy's name
(Posted on Oct 21, 2014 at 05:34PM ) Tags:
So while Bob was bopping around Amman in 2000 for a wedding, one of the things in the back of his mind was the murkiness surrounding the multitude of English name spellings for that famed Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi. In Arabic his full name is معمر محمد أبو منيار القذافي

I could progress one day to the myriad spellings of everyone’s good
friend and drinking buddy–cum–regional strongman, Colonel Qaddafi.
Or was it Gadafi? Qudhafi works. El Kazzafi anyone?
It’s Qadhdhāfī too,
McNumbNuts. 
Surely it was clearer and simpler in Arabic.

One kick at the proverbial can here was clearly not enough, and Bob came back for a second run at it later on in the chapter. 

Revisiting Libya’s Colonel naming confusion, there was much yet still to
master.  
Muammar Al-Gathafi? Omar Mouammer Al Gaddafi?  For added
measure, Qathafi, Mu'Ammar el 70. May his moniker mayhem morph some
more with Mulazim Awwal Mu'ammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi
added to the pile.

That last variant seems to be the longest naming version on record for our esteemed leader. 


It seems the complexity of getting his name right in English centers around his name as pronounced in Arabic and not being able to properly transcribe it across into English letters, something referred to as transliteration. This short video encapsulates some of those spellings.
 

"No one can agree on how to spell Gadhafi's name. He's like the Hanukkah of dictators." 
                                                                                                                                             - Jimmy Kimmel

Five pieces all from 2011 jump into glorious detail on the matter as evinced below.

1) Time Magazine

2) Dictionary.com

3) Business Insider

4) The Economist

5) Good Magazine

ABC dug deep in 2009 to come up with 112 different spellings. We won’t bother to list them all here but they are in that piece for all those that just need the full Monty there. The visualization below may possibly be the handiest device out there for compactly laying out his name spelling variants.



Then this other cat tried to get a little analytical on the subject here based on search results, focusing only on the surname, and forgetting about his first name. He was able to get it down to 41 from the 112 above, but there's still some serious long tail action going on.



There are a lot of possibilties at play here at each step along the way per below, and looks like even more spelling options than the simple visualization above. 
 

This StraightDope piece from 1986 tried to tackle the matter as well, Perhaps, best and simplest for all (in the English language anyway), would have been as Bob thought about it during the wedding reception.
One solution—having the Colonel talk to  , aka TAFKaP,
back in the day when said artist went through that phase.
A timely connection between the two characters regarding
naming guidance and simple symbolism could have made things
much easier for all in the world regarding the Libyan’s label.

This fuzzy (yet still legible) photo of his son Mohammed's passport may yield some clues as to how his old man hay have had his name spelled in his own passport. Yet another surprising version at play here with Al Gathafi. 



In addition to having a name with multiple spellings, he was also a man of many titles at various points in time, be they self-appointed or not. Among them: King of (African) Kings, Imam of Muslims, Dean of African Rulers, Leader of the Revolution, Keeper of Arab Nationalism, and more informally perhaps, The Colonel. There was also that whole special fashion swagger he had, but that is probably best left for a whole separate analysis together with Prince lumped into the same boat.

And as with many celebrities, the ravages of time can take their toll on one’s outward-facing aesthetics. But it looks like our main man took that aspect in stride and let nature do its thing, and not try and fight it with repeated bouts of cosmetic surgery that make folks look like some exotic stretched Asian feline. Give him credit for that. 



Anyway, with all this confusion and no definitive resolution on such a small, discrete spelling matter, ain’t no wonder we got no peace in the Middle Crease. This is what happens when you’re some single punter hitting weddings all over the globe with different cultures and languages at play.