Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What's in a Name? Apparently Everything

You like potato and I like potahto, 
You like tomato and I like tomahto
Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto, 

Let's call the whole thing off.

Louis Armstrong (or was it Gershwin?) gave up too easily.  If tomato, tomahto confused him,  how would he have referred to the Libyan leader Gaddafi? (Qadafi? Khadaffy?...Never mind.)

The Library of Congress lists 72 variations of the Libyan leader Gaddafi's name and newspapers have added 40 more to that list in the last decade. Here goes:
Qaddafi, Muammar;  Al-Gathafi, Muammar;  al-Qadhafi, Muammar;  Al Qathafi,  Mu'ammar; Al Qathafi, Muammar;  El Gaddafi, Moamar;  El Kadhafi, Moammar; El Kazzafi, Moamer;   El Qathafi, Mu'Ammar;  Gadafi, Muammar;  Gaddafi, Moamar;  Gadhafi, Mo'ammar;  
Gathafi, Muammar;  Ghadafi, Muammar;  Ghaddafi, Muammar; Ghaddafy, Muammar;   Gheddafi, Muammar;  Gheddafi, Muhammar;  Kadaffi, Momar;  Kad'afi, Mu`amar al-;  Kaddafi, Muamar;
Kaddafi, Muammar;  Kadhafi, Moammar;  Kadhafi, Mouammar;   
Kazzafi, Moammar;  Khadafy, Moammar;  Khaddafi, Muammar;  Moamar al-Gaddafi;   Moamar el Gaddafi;  Moamar El Kadhafi;  Moamar Gaddafi; Moamer El Kazzafi;  Mo'ammar el-Gadhafi;  Moammar El Kadhafi; Mo'ammar Gadhafi;   Moammar Kadhafi;  Moammar Khadafy;  Moammar Qudhafi; Mu`amar al-Kad'afi;   
Mu'amar al-Kadafi;  Muamar Al-Kaddafi;  Muamar Kaddafi; Muamer Gadafi;  Muammar Al-Gathafi;  Muammar al-Khaddafi;  Mu'ammar al-Qadafi; Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi;  Muammar al-Qadhafi;  Mu'ammar al-Qadhdhafi;  Mu`ammar al-Qadhdhāfī ;  Mu'ammar Al Qathafi;  Muammar Al Qathafi;  Muammar Gadafi;  Muammar Gaddafi;  Muammar Ghadafi;  Muammar Ghaddafi;  Muammar Ghaddafy;  Muammar Gheddafi;  Muammar Kaddafi;  Muammar Khaddafi;  Mu'ammar Qadafi;  Muammar Qaddafi;  Muammar Qadhafi;  Mu'ammar Qadhdhafi;  Muammar Quathafi;
Mulazim Awwal Mu'ammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi;
Qadafi, Mu'ammar;  Qadhafi, Muammar;  Qadhdhāfī, Mu`ammar; Qathafi, Mu'Ammar el; 
Quathafi, Muammar;  Qudhafi, Moammar;  Moamar AI Kadafi; Maummar Gaddafi; 
Moamar Gadhafi; Moamer Gaddafi;  Moamer Kadhafi;  Moamma Gaddafi;  Moammar Gaddafi;  Moammar Gadhafi;  Moammar Ghadafi;  Moammar Khadaffy;  Moammar Khaddafi; 
Moammar el Gadhafi;  Moammer Gaddafi; Mouammer al Gaddafi;  Muamar Gaddafi;  
Muammar Al Ghaddafi;  Muammar Al Qaddafi;  Muammar Al Qaddafi;  Muammar El Qaddafi;  Muammar Gadaffi; Muammar Gadafy;  Muammar Gaddhafi;  Muammar Gadhafi;  
Muammar Ghadaffi; Muammar Qadthafi;  Muammar al Gaddafi;  Muammar el Gaddafy;
Muammar el Gaddafi;  Muammar el Qaddafi;  Muammer Gadaffi,  Muammer Gaddafi;
Mummar Gaddafi,  Omar Al Qathafi,  Omar Mouammer Al Gaddafi;  Omar Muammar
Al Ghaddafi;  Omar Muammar Al Qaddafi;  Omar Muammar Al Qathafi;
Omar Muammar Gaddafi;  Omar Muammar Ghaddafi; Omar al Ghaddafi.


Says The Straight Dope's Cecil Adams  (June 1986), "In most cases where there is doubt about how to spell somebody's name, the usual journalistic practice is to accept the preference of the namee. For many years, however, the Mummer was too busy promoting global chaos to devote much time to the niceties of orthography."  C.A. has a couple of suggestions too. "I say we just call him Duckbreath. It's short, it's easy to spell, and Lord knows it satisfies the soul" and "My personal feeling is to chuck all the preceding and just call him Poohead, which is easier to remember and has an undeniable evocative power as well. But to each his own."

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