Orthodox Arabic names are normally rendered in four elements, a practice referred to as the "Isim Rubai" in Arabic. The typical Arab name includes the person's first or given name, followed by their father's name and grandfather's name in turn, and finally the "branch" name: the Western equivalent of the surname. The branch name can be drawn from the person's family, tribe, subtribe, or clan heritage, and not surprisingly is a key indicator of a person's tribal—and by extension political—affiliation.
Mu'ammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi
The numerous transliterations (or spellings) of Qadhafi's name found among Western media sources stem largely from different pronunciations of Arabic letters among native Arabic speakers, who themselves speak a variety of dialects. For example, the letter "Qaf" in Arabic—the phonetic equivalent of the English "Q" in Modern Standard Arabic—is pronounced like an English "G" in many Arab bedouin dialects, while the same letter is pronounced like a "K" or "Q" in the Levant, and is aspirated, or not pronounced at all, in many parts of Egypt.
These differences are compounded in the Western media by the variety of transliteration systems used by foreign language Arabists, particularly English, French, and German, who are charged with rendering already numerous Arabic variations into corresponding Western script. Complicating matters further, vowel sounds are dropped in many French transliterations of Arabic names. Western media sources also tend to drop the definite article "al-" that precedes many Arabic family names. Thus, we will most likely find "al-Qadhafi" presented simply as "Qadhafi."
Spelling variants of the name: Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi
| Muammar Qaddafi
| Muamar Kaddafi
|| —Al Qathafi
| Moammar El Kadhafi
| Mohammer Q'udafi
| Mu'amar al-Kadafi
|| —Al Qathafi
| Mo'ammar Gadhafi
| Moamer El Kazzafi
| Mu'ammar al-Qadafi