Use the AP Stylebook People!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

So I've been watching the news a fair amount recently, especially while sitting in the airport at crazy hours of the morning waiting for my flights over spring break.

One of the main things I noticed is that no one seems to spell Gadhafi the same way.

A New York Times article spells it "Muammar el-Qaddafi". Fortunately, this seems to be the typical spelling throughout the New York Times itself.

Fox News also uses Muammar el-Qaddafi as the standard for their news stories, however certain articles can be found that spell it differently (such as Ghadafi).
CBS also uses Qaddafi.

Wikipedia has a page dedicated to Muammar Gaddafi.

Looking online it would appear that the typical CNN spelling is Moammar Gadhafi as it is with ABC and MSNBC. However when watching CNN one morning, it was spelled at least two different ways within the same program. This was what truly caught my attention.

According to the AP Stylebook, it should be spelled Moammar Gadhafi. I just wish more people, specifically well known news venues and stations that have such a high viewership, should attend to the stylebook, especially on this issue.

Is it really that hard to cooperate?

Photo credit: Creative Commons.


Ben Lucas March 22, 2011 at 11:14 PM  

It seems really weird that there isn't an accepted "best" translation of his name into English. Something like this just needs to be regulated for the sake of coherent news reports. It's also weird that the networks don't do what's in the AP Stylebook. I guess their translators are "better" than CNN's or the like.

Amanda Hintgen March 23, 2011 at 12:14 PM  

I think this is a valid point because everyday people's names are spelt wrong and it is one of the easiest thing to ask. How do you spell that?

T Israel March 23, 2011 at 1:12 PM  

As someone who has both their first and last name misspelled frequently I think it's so important to ask someone how to spell and pronounce their name. It's such an easy thing to do I think it's ridiculous that journalists are still spelling names incorrectly.

Jillian April 7, 2011 at 6:14 AM  

Yes, it is. Why? Because AP's version is based on a single letter Qaddafi wrote in 1986, rather than actual rules of Arabic transliteration. In Arabic, his name uses the "ق", which is a glottal "Q" sound, not a "G". HOWEVER, in Egypt and Libya, just as the "j" is pronounced "g," so sometimes is the "Q". Therefore, a Libyan would pronounce it one way, while, for example, a Saudi would pronounce it differently.

Incidentally, in Qaddafi's recent letter to Obama, he spelled his OWN NAME "Qaddaffi" - AP's rule is, technically, that non-Roman names should be spelled however the person prefers, so long as their identity remains clear. Since Qaddafi can't solidify the Anglicized spelling of his own damn name, I don't know why the AP should be the authority.

Jillian April 7, 2011 at 6:15 AM  

I would also note that the AP doesn't care enough about its own rules to follow them when it comes to Osama Bin Laden, who spells his own name "Usama."

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