Yes, we really spell it ‘Kadafi’

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And 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