Khadafi? Gadaffy? Qadaffi? Why We Spell It The Way We Do

He who shall not be spelled. Tiny Markers/Tinymarkers hide caption

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He who shall not be spelled.

He who shall not be spelled.

Tiny Markers/Tinymarkers

From our How To Do Everything podcast:

If you've been following the news from Libya, you've noticed dozens of different spellings of the name of the Libyan leader. Here's a list of 37 spellings, from the London Evening Standard.

NPR and AP go with "Gadhafi." We figured it was just arbitrary, but no. There's a source. Back in 1986, Jill Swanson's second-grade class wrote letters to Gadhafi, and much to their surprise ...

Jill: We received letters back from Gadhafi. And his name is spelled in English. That's where we learned we would spell his name G-A-D-H-A-F-I.

Ian: So this letter was, sort of, an English spelling right from the source.

Mike: It's like the Rosetta Stone of Gadhafi.

Jill: Yeah, I guess so.

It's not like Gadhafi goes around writing down his name in English a lot, so that's where NPR and AP get their spelling: from a letter Moammar Gadhafi wrote to a bunch of second-graders in Minnesota. By the way, he also thanked the students for condemning the barbaric actions of the United States, which they insist they did not.

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