First it was a question of whether Jean-Luc Picard was better than Captain Kirk. Then it was a question of who was the better Mystery Science Theatre 3000 host out of Joel and Mike. We Web nerds know how to turn trivial shit into some of the greatest debates in Internet history and the more recent one concerns the correct pronunciation of a certain filename extension for a certain bitmap image format. I am talking, of course, about the Gif.
In the unlikely event that you don’t know what a Gif is, let me brief you on it. You know what a picture is, right? Well, here’s a Gif:
So yes, people are in disagreement as to whether or not the word for this type of file is pronounced “Gif” with a hard G, as opposed to “Jif”. The creator himself insists on “Jif” as the correct pronunciation, but no one seems to take that seriously, as they probably shouldn’t.
For the record, I too refer to it as Gif with a hard G. Why? Because the word Gif is an abbreviation of Graphics Interchange Format. Do you know how to pronounce the word “Graphics”? It’s not “Jraphics”, right? Good. Congratulations, now you know how to correctly say the word Gif. (Also, while we’re at it, Mike is totally funnier than Joel and there wouldn’t have been a show it weren’t for Mike anyways so HA!)
That sounds like a pretty reasonable argument, right? Well, other people on the web also seem to think so because they too use it from time to time. But there is another one they tend to pull out when trying to prove once and for all that it’s not pronounced “Jif”. It goes a little something like this: “Yeah well, that’s not how you pronounce the letter G.” There was a time when this ever-so crushing rebut was everywhere. Maddox used it in his I Hate Buzzfeed video when he said “Yeah, you invented the Graphics Interchange Format, you didn’t invent the way letters are pronounced”. (Source)
And then there was this post on Tumblr that went something along the lines of: “‘It’s pronounced Jif’, says the inventor of the Gif. ‘No it’s not’, says the inventor of the letter G.” That’s all incredibly fascinating, you guys. But here’s what I’d like all of you to do right now. It won’t take long, I promise. I want you to do the following:
SAY THE LETTER “G” OUT LOUD ONE TIME!
There. Now tell me, how exactly did you pronounce that? Did you pronounce it “Jee” as it always has been and always will be pronounced or did you pronounce it as “Gee” with a hard G? Shot in the dark: you used the former.
That’s kinda strange, is it not? That the letter itself breaks this recently made up rule of yours as to how it itself is pronounced? Oh, and in case you think it’s only the letter that’s guilty of this blasphemous crime, here’s a few more words that don’t seem to know how, to quote the rule yet again, “the letter G is pronounced”:
- Geoff (unless you spell it “Jeff”, which I guess is another debate for another day).
- Gene Hackman.
- George Washington.
But the most important one is the letter itself. If you’re gonna use “that’s how you pronounce the letter” when arguing for the correct pronunciation of a certain word, you might first wanna make sure that they’re actually pronounced the same in the first place! I’m almost tempted to start calling it Jif, just to fuck with people who use this argument. I would also try to make the case that this is a tomato-tomahto thing, but since there already exists a definitive way of pronouncing the word “Graphics”, there’s probably no need for that.
Bottom line: yes, it’s pronounced “Gif”, but not for the reasons some of you think it is. So knock it off before you look even dumber! Oh, and here’s some Mystery Science Theatre: