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Yes, we really spell it 'Kadafi'

Kadafi-APAnd we seem to have done so since 1969.

The man whose name the Los Angeles Times spells as Moammar Kadafi is Muammer el-Qaddafi in the New York Times, Moammar Gaddafi in the Washington Post and Moammar Gadhafi in Associated Press articles.

We addressed the spelling of the late Libyan president's name in February and again in August. In short:

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.)

The Poynter Institute weighed in today with a blog post: Not that news orgs care, but Libyan leader spelled his name ‘Moammar El-Gadhafi’

Many readers, seeing the varied spellings used by others in the news media, are sure The Times is wrong.

Reader R. Kaller emailed today to ask if "Kadafi" was a phonetic spelling and argued that  "Gaddafi" was correct. "I expect higher standards of The Times," Kaller wrote.

At least we've been consistent all these years.

--Deirdre Edgar

Photo: Moammar Kadafi addresses the U.N. General Assembly in 2009. Credit: Richard Drew / Associated Press


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Comments (17)

Consistency is the only thing that matters with the transliteration. I prefer the "Q," personally, because the sound (of ق) comes from a position back and at the top of the mouth, clearly different from "G" or "K," which both have more accurate equivalent letters in Arabic (well, I don't know much about Libyan Arabic, but there is a "G" sound in Egyptian). Still, I think everyone understands who you're talking about regardless of spelling.

does the spelling really matter?

who cares?

not matter how you spell it, we will be graced with a whole lot less of this clown and however you want to spell his name in a few weeks.

Now we can spell it D-E-A-D.


I spell him dead.

I'm not an expert but i have studied Arabic. al-Jazeera English however, would probably be considered the best experts in Arabic/English transliteration.

They say Muammar Gaddafi. i would trust them more than some times staffer & 'Middle east guy' who gave his opinion 40 years ago...

Why don't you change to something as little more accurate? Old dogs can learn new tricks...

Remember: 'Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.' Ralph Waldo

Why not just spell it the true way--godawful.

For what it's worth, (not that this matters much anymore since he's dead and we won't be discussing him very much in the future) the now deceased leader of Libya had a website and he, himself, spelled it Gathafi.

They are all wrong. It is spelled معمر القذافي

Saying that we spell it this way because somebody who worked for us 40 years ago told us to is silly. Such whimsy and arbitrariness are unbecoming a respectable newspaper. Please consider a more coherent and objective rationale: dictionary, official documents, etc.

Just what I'd expect in a place like Lawz Annscheluss.

Of course people who are expressing "relief" that this tyrant is now dead don't really care about how it was done. The unconstitutional invasion of Iraq never really mattered, although it bankrupted our country and was never necessary in the first place because Hussain had zilch to do with 9/11... but that's irrelevant, because all that matters is he's dead, right? Now that "Kadafi" is dead, it doesn't matter that the US was illegally and immorally involved in that skirmish... right? I mean, heck we're right and everyone else are devil-worshippers, right?

Spelling Quran as Koran only shows one thing - ignorance. What your Middle-East guy said 40 years ago is not gospel. Don't gloat in sticking to bad habits.

Does LA Times still call Chinese-Americans as Chinamen? Because 90 years ago that is exactly the term you use.

whatever happened to the spelling Khadafy that was prevalent in the 1970's?

It's useful to be consistent in the spelling at least for the sake of archive searches. When looking through the newspaper's archive you need only search for 'Kadafi' and don't have to worry about missed articles. I'm talking, of course, about electronic searches.

Alright, I get it. Gotcha. Check. So noted.
This story has been up since Dumbledore was a kid. Now would you take it down, please?

This is the backup site for The Los Angeles Times. We'll post news and information if becomes inoperable or inaccessible.

this is a test breaking news post |  April 16, 2013, 1:45 pm »


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