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Last Updated: Monday, 5 April, 2004, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
21 spellings of 'Gadaffi'
E-CYCLOPEDIA
The words behind the headlines

E-CYCLOPEDIA
E-cyclopedia is BBC News Online's guide to words behind the headlines

To some the Libyan leader is Gaddafi. To others he's Qadhdhaafiy. Why are there so many different spellings of his name?

On the streets of Paris, the president is Jacques Chirac. As he is on the streets of London. Schröder is Schröder or perhaps Schroeder. Berlusconi's simply Berlusconi.

But Colonel Gaddafi poses a few more problems. In Arabic, the Libyan leader's name is written as follows:
Gadaffi's name written in Arabic

The process of transliterating (representing the characters from one alphabet in the closest corresponding characters from another) can give a rich variety of results.

Aref Ahmaro, a senior producer at the BBC's Arabic Service, says: "When you translate something, you set out to make it understood to the greatest number of people, and to reflect the way local people pronounce proper names.

Col Gadaffi
Spellbound
"If you were to write Ghaddafi phonetically as the Libyans pronounce it, you'd end up with something like Qua-th-th. If you started writing that it would confuse people.

"Gaddafi is probably the best compromise. Sometimes if you are too strict, you can sound too pedantic," he says

But for reference, here are just some of the ways the name can be written, with a note of who uses which one.

Gadafi
Gadafy - (as used by the Guardian and the Irish Times)
Gaddafi - (probably the most common, as used by most newspapers and this website)
Gadaffi - (as used by the Financial Times)
Ghadaffy - (as used by London's Evening Standard, although not for long)
Gadhafi - (as used by the Wall Street Journal)
Ghaddafi
Ghaddafy
Gheddafi
Kadafi - (as used by the Los Angeles Times)
Kaddafi - (as used by Newsweek)
Kazzafi
Khaddafi
Khaddaffy
Qadafi
Qaddafi - (as used by the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Economist and the New Yorker)
Qadhdhafi
Qadhdhaafiy
Qathafi
Q'udafi
Qudhafi


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