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View Diary: Condi Lied: Declassified Memo from Clarke (416 comments)

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  •  Al Qida is probably the earlier spelling (none)
    Within government circles Osama Bin Laden is routinely referred to as UBL, for Usama Bin Laden, which was the transliteration they used early on.  Look at this FBI wanted poster.

    In bureuacratic circles there may be some value in keeping the spelling specific.

    •  Translliteration is always dodgy ... (none)
      ...I've seen al qaeda, al quida, al qida, al quidah. Reminds me of an experiment we once undertook when we were creating a new copy style book for a publication. We found 28 possible transliterations of Moammar Qadafi's name.
      •  I bet W and Condi set it to music (4.00)
        During briefings, "You say al qaeda, I say al quida... let's call the whole thing off." [followed by uproarious laughter.]
      •  Oh, that Qadafi (none)
        I thought perhaps you meant Mohammar Qaddafi. Or possibly Muammar al-Qaddafi or even Moammar al-Qadhafi. We had the same problem on the east coast.

        Transliteration of Chinese names is fun, too.

        There's a nice-ninny priest/at tea in everyone,/all cozy and chatty as auntie,/but a saint comes/and throws rocks through the window. -- John Ciardi

        by Mnemosyne on Thu Feb 10, 2005 at 06:18:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Press practice (none)
        The practice, at least among the press, varies from bureau to bureau. There are several systems for transliterating Arabic into the Roman alphabet, just as there are for Mandarin Chinese. (The Japanese, by contrast, have an official system of their own, so we always get Koizumi instead of the dozen or so other ways that can be spelled in English.)

        The transliteration the man himself prefers is Muammar Gadafi. In Arabic, the vowel that is sometimes rendered as 'o' (Moammar) in English, and sometimes as 'u' (Muammar), has a sound that is midway between the two in Standard Arabic. Likewise, the consonant you see rendered as 'q', 'k', or 'g' at the beginning of his family name doesn't precisely match the English sound represented by any of those letters.

        Truth to tell, I've never heard him pronounce his own name, and I don't know any Libyans, so I have no idea how it actually sounds. My guess is it's a bit different than textbook Standard Arabic would suggest, but I don't know. Dialects of Arabic vary at least as widely as the difference between Brooklyn English and Australian English.

        Personally, I suspect Gadafi enjoys tormenting western journalists with his name.

        •  and my personal favorite... (none)
          qudaffy duck.

          (borrowed from some SNL news show many, many years ago.)

          •  It fits (none)
            If only they'd had access to his website...

            Based on hearing him speak to reporters, it's plain that Gadafi is an intelligent guy, but reading his writings, it's also plain that he's mad as a hatter, too.

            He might be an improvement over Bush, though. ;)

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