GIF, or is it JIF?…

Posted on 06. Jan, 2015 by in Opinion

The internet is a constant source of debate and discussion providing advancement in many subject areas. There are also subjects that will make no meaningful progress regardless of how much debate is conducted

Among these topics is the debate over the proper pronunciation of the image format GIF. Some choose to pronounce it /ˈdʒɪf/, which sounds like jif, while others choose to use the pronunciation /ˈɡɪf/, with a hard ‘g’ like in gate.

This debate was under the radar for many years, with most people being unaware of the extent of the disagreement. In 2013, the creator of the GIF format, Steve Wilhite, came out and tried to say that the proper pronunciation was actually ‘jif’. While Mr. Wilhite is not a linguist and can be excused from not understanding the complexities of how spelling can effect the pronunciation of words, he cannot however, be upset when people make use of a more logical pronunciation.

There are two very good examples of words that show how the ‘jif’ pronunciation cannot be the correct one. The word “jib”, the foresail on a sailboat is pronounced with a ‘j’ like in ‘jet’. The word gift on the other hand, is pronounces with a hard ‘g’ like in gate. With no debate over how ‘gift’ is pronounced its hard to see how anyone could think that ‘gif’ would be any different.

If GIF had meant to be pronounced like ‘jif’ then it should have been spelled that way.

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