Sunday, March 27, 2011

More Than You Wanted on Libyan Linguistics

Wrong again. The name of Gadhafi's tribe is القذاذفـة, which I, consulting a Wikipedia article on the Arabic alphabet, read as Al-Gadhadhfah ("dh" like the first sound in "this"). So "Moammar El-Gadhafi" (which, you will recall, should really be "El-Gadhdhafi") means "Moammar of Al-Gadhadhfah tribe." Apparently rendering the definite article as "el" rather than "al" is another regionalism that's not considered standard Arabic, which is why we don't study elgebra and drink elcohol. I may be inconsistent in using "al" with the Libyan G. This tribe's home is in the Sirte region, which is where the next big battle is coming up.

Insanely obscure linguistic fact of the week: although Icelandic has a letter (ð) that's pronounced like the first sound in "this," the newspapers spell his name Gaddafi, not Gaððafi.

STILL MORE 3/30/11: The New York Times spells the name of  the tribe Qaddafa. According to Wikipedia (which uses "Qadhadhfa") the name means "those who spit out or vomit." He would never get elected in a democratic system: "Hi, I'm Fred Puker."

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