Video of Mohammed Qaddafi's diplomatic passport reveals a surprising spelling
As Libyans flood Muammar Qaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya military compound in Tripoli, they're making a number of interesting finds. Most recent is what appears to be the diplomatic passport of eldest son Mohammed Qaddafi. Video of someone leafing through the passport reveals an interesting discovery: the spelling of Qaddafi's name. A much-circulated 2009 ABCNews.com story found 112 different ways to render the Libyan leader's last name in the Latin alphabet, used in English and most other Western European languages. But, according to this passport, and presumably the Libyan man himself, the accurate Latinized spelling is one of the least commonly used of those 112: Gathafi. (The passport also shows Mohammed's title as "Son of the Leader of the Revolution," a reference to his father's preferred title as head of state.)
The proper spelling of the Libyan leader's name has long been a source of banter and argument among Western journalists and editors. Debates over the most accurate spelling of his name are so common that they were once featured in an episode of the TV series The West Wing. Some hobbyist linguists have even parsed the multiple spellings into computer code and a handy chart.