Colonel Gadfly*: little wonder no-one can find him

Sorry, I didn't quite catch your name!

Back in March, when the international community decided to freeze the Colonel’s considerable overseas assets, they hit on a problem of identification.

The Independent reported: “Attempts to freeze the overseas assets of Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi will be hampered as there are 115,000 potential spellings of his full name.

“Every one of those spellings is a legitimate transliteration of his name and many banks and financial institutions simply will not have software sophisticated enough to track every variation. This means that some of Col Gaddafi’s assets might not be identified.”[1]

Whether or not we believe the reported number of potential spellings of his full name – Muammar Gadhafi Bin Abdul Salam bin Hamed bin Mohammed al-Gadhafi aka Abu Meniar, there is still general confusion over the ‘correct’ spelling of the Libyan’s most recognisable name.

The Independent has now returned to the topic: “Much confusion about how to search on Google for sightings of the deposed Libyan dictator. The UK press and broadcasters, including this newspaper, spell the Colonel’s surname “Gaddafi”. The US media, however, are undecided: The New York Times uses “Qaddafi”, the LA Times “Kadafi”, and The Wall Street Journal “Gadhafi”. Meanwhile, governmental sources such as the White House, Downing Street and William Hague’s Twitter feed prefer “Qadhafi”. A call to the Foreign Office for official advice is inconclusive: “I suppose the media spells it ‘Gaddafi’ so people can read it easier,” says a spokesman with grammar even more dubious than mine. “‘Q’ in Arabic is pronounced as a hard ‘G’, so ‘Qadhafi’ is the more accurate translation.” The question was further vexed yesterday afternoon, when rebels found what appeared to be the despot’s passport among his abandoned belongings (presumably scuppering his chances of fleeing across the border to Chad). In the passport, the Colonel’s name is spelled “Gathafi”.[2]

One thing we can agree on: however he spells his name, his character is consistently odious.

*Gadfly: a fly that annoys horses and other livestock (camels?), usually a horse-fly or a botfly;

**Social gadfly:  a person who upsets the status quo.

Source [1]: The Independent

Source [2]: The Independent

Image source: Internet


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