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Here we go again: Kadafi vs. Gadhafi vs. el-Qaddafi

August 24, 2011 |  2:36 pm

Moammar Kadafi The leader of Libya is once again making front-page headlines. And there's nothing like large type to make people notice that The Times doesn't spell his name the way other news organizations do.

The man we call Moammar Kadafi is Muammer el-Qaddafi in the New York Times, Moammar Gaddafi in the Washington Post and Moammar Gadhafi in Associated Press articles.

It’s no wonder readers think the L.A. Times has a mistake. But all of the spellings are transliterations from Arabic, and so all are interpretations.

Many news organizations, including the L.A. Times, tackled the question in February. You can check out what Time magazine and the Christian Science Monitor had to say, too.

We began using Kadafi in 1969, when the rebel leader seized power, under guidance from our Middle East correspondent at the time. He advised that the sound that begins the leader’s name was best translated as a “k”. (That also explains our spelling of Koran vs. AP’s Quran.)

Some of the discussion on Twitter:

Photo: Moammar Kadafi in April. Credit: Joseph Eid / AFP/Getty Images

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