On the pronunciation of GIF

March 10, 2015 ☼ Pedantry

That the common folk of the Internet continue to debate the pronunciation of GIF is baffling. Let us first register our disgust and confusion with the titular medium:

This is disgustThis is disgust

The belligerents in this debate are those in the hard G camp, and the rest of us, who are correct. The former are a bratty and insistent bunch, generally born after 1987, who have so deformed their lips with this persistent habit that they dub any dissent un-American. At this we can only snort.

Were this millennial cabal arguing the facts in court, their expert witness would burble about how the G in GIF stands for “graphics.” This, as we are fond of saying at Pedantree, means jack squat.

This is jeopardyThis is jeopardy

The defense offers these counterpoints:

The rules of engagement in this territory are certainly dicey. But we do have another witness to call to the stand. He is the creator of the GIF and he most definitely has an opinion on this matter.

When Steve Wilhite invented the technology in 1987, he foresaw, and sought to forestall, this very debate. His initial documentation contains this note:

Double jeopardyDouble jeopardy

We are unmoved by those who use “evolution of language” as a permission slip for error. For a neologism to include specifications for its pronunciation at birth is as rare as it is a blessing. Given the remarkable prescience of the GIF’s creator, we insist that it is fair and fitting that we honor the correct pronunciation of his baby. (One’s patriotism not withstanding.)

We rest our case.

Sources: FAQs.org, The GIF Pronunciation Page, Gizmodo