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How Do You Spell “mʿmr alqḏāfī”?

(AP)

Big questions surround the future of Libya and its capricious leader, Muammar Qaddafi. Here’s a smaller one: how do you spell his name? At On Point, “Muammar Qaddafi” is standard, but other media outlets have their own interpretations. NPR prefers “Moammar Gadhafi,” while the New York Times prints it as “Muammar el-Qaddafi.” At Al Jazeera, you’ll find “Muammar Gaddafi.” This 2001 article from Slate explains how one Arabic name can have so many versions:

…Rendering a language from another alphabet (or from a pictographic system such as Chinese) into the Latin alphabet is called Romanization.

A variety of systems exist to Romanize Arabic letters and words, but there is no dominant one. The International Journal of Middle East Studies offers one system, the Library of Congress a slightly different one. And not all publications consistently follow one system, either. Historical tradition for a particular place or name can win out, and so can personal preference…

You can find more of On Point‘s coverage of Libya and Muammar Qaddafi here, the revolution in Egypt here, and US policy in the Arab world here. Also, check out this lengthier list of ways the faltering dictator’s name may appear.

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ONPOINT
TODAY
Mar 4, 2015
Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a keynote address at the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, in Santa Clara, Calif.  (AP)

Hillary Clinton’s week of bad headlines: about her emails and foreign money going to the Clinton Foundation. We’ll dig in.

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Tiny houses, micro-apartments. They’re hot. Americans are downsizing.

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On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Answers To Your Questions On Black Holes
Tuesday, Mar 3, 2015

Yale University’s Priyamvada Natarajan answers your black hole questions in full. (Well, most of them.)

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Want To Listen To Lead Belly? Here’s Where To Start
Monday, Mar 2, 2015

Loved our show on Lead Belly, but unsure on where you should start to listen? Jeff Place of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage offers his best picks for a beginning Lead Belly listener.

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Our Week In The Web: February 27, 2015
Friday, Feb 27, 2015

We won’t lead you into a debate on the color of #TheDress (it’s blue and black, end of debate), but we do wonder about the blurring lines between so-called Internet culture and general popular culture. Also, it’s snowing in Boston. Still.

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