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GIF pronounced 'jif', and don't you forget it!

GIF pronounced 'jif', and don't you forget it!

Steve Wilhite invented the GIF while working for CompuServe back in 1987.

The creator of the GIF image file format, Steve Wilhite, has stated categorically that the acronym should be pronounced as 'jif', with a soft G.

In an email exchange with the New York Times, mr Wilhite stated that "The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations. They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.”

The statement came about after discussion of Mr Wilhite being honoured for his work on the format with a lifetime achievement award at The Webby Awards on Tuesday.

Talking of the process by which he came up with the file type, he stated that "I saw the format I wanted in my head and then I started programming.” It took about a month for the format to be created and released. Wilhite was working for CompuServe at the time so it was that company that first started using the format.

Surprisingly, Wilhite claims he has never created an animated GIF himself, though he admitted the classic dancing baby GIF from 1996 is a favourite.

As for the pronunciation, while many respect the inventor's decree, many users insist on pronouncing the acronym with a hard 'G', with the logic being that the letter stands for 'graphics' not 'jraphics'.

So, how do you pronounce GIF, and what are some of your favourites?

71 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
The_Crapman 22nd May 2013, 13:43 Quote
Ballaches! Who in their right mind pronounces it 'jif'. Get lost old man. You've got your award and some time back in the spotlight, so put your poo stirring stick away. Why don't you disappear into the ether again and remain forgotten like everyone else who's actually done something and leave the limelight to people who worked hard at being famous for doing nothing of any real significance, like steve jobs.
Phalanx 22nd May 2013, 13:45 Quote
Go home, Steve "While-Hit-ee", you're drunk!
Spreadie 22nd May 2013, 13:45 Quote
GIF... Guh. IF

No point in waiting decades before trying to correct people. Foolish man. Go home and play with your spring :P
Jaybles 22nd May 2013, 13:46 Quote
Urm... I do. Everyone has been pulling me up on it. And now I'M RIGHT!
Spreadie 22nd May 2013, 13:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaybles
Urm... I do. Everyone has been pulling me up on it. And now I'M RIGHT!
Nah. Now, you're just as wrong as him :)
CrapBag 22nd May 2013, 13:52 Quote
faugusztin 22nd May 2013, 13:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaybles
Urm... I do. Everyone has been pulling me up on it. And now I'M RIGHT!

Let me quote something i found just now :
Quote:
It's JIF, as my old jirlfriend used to tell me, on our way to the jarage to get the VW Jolf and drive to Jarden City.

Oh and you do pronounce JPEG aj JPEJ ?
Gareth Halfacree 22nd May 2013, 13:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spreadie
No point in waiting decades before trying to correct people. Foolish man.
He hasn't waited decades - he's been telling people it's pronounced jif for years. Take this page, for example, created in 2001. Ever since CompuServe went live with the spec in 1987 its creators have been pronouncing it 'jif.' It's just the rest of the world who disagreed - and Steve Wilhite's been shouting into the void ever since. It's only now that he's got an award that the news agencies have picked up on the 'controversy' and are treating it like he'd never said it before...
Quote:
Originally Posted by faugusztin
Let me quote something i found just now :
Quote:
It's JIF, as my old jirlfriend used to tell me, on our way to the jarage to get the VW Jolf and drive to Jarden City.
Amusing, but proves nothing: do you say g-iraffe, or jiraffe? G-ee or jee? G-eneral or jeneral?

Don't get me wrong, I see the logic in it being the "graphics" interchange format, and therefore g-if - but acronyms are rarely pronounced according to their individual words. Take NASA: the first A is aeronautics - an 'eh' noise. You don't say 'NEHSA,' though. You say NASA. Nor do you say 'arrownautics.' Frankly, the inventor can say it's pronounced 'Jeffry' if he wants to - it's his creation.
Quote:
Originally Posted by faugusztin
Oh and you do pronounce JPEG aj JPEJ ?
By that logic, we should all be pronouncing JPEG as "jayfeg." After all, the P is for "Photographic," so if the G in GIF has to be a hard G to match "Graphics," the P in JPEG has to be an F sound to match "Photographic."
Spreadie 22nd May 2013, 14:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
He hasn't waited decades - he's been telling people it's pronounced jif for years. Take this page, for example, created in 2001.
He ain't very good at shouting is he? It's still far too late, you could publicise it everywhere and people won't change now.

Besides, the first letter represents the word "Graphics", not "Jraphics"; which sounds a lot like a long necked quadruped, also spelt with a G.
MjFrosty 22nd May 2013, 14:07 Quote
We're not wrong though, Steve. It begins with G. People don't say things out loud on the internet.

Congratulations on your life time achievement award for domestic surface cleaner.
Gareth Halfacree 22nd May 2013, 14:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spreadie
Besides, the first letter represents the word "Graphics", not "Jraphics";
And, as I have pointed out, the second letter of JPEG represents the word "Photographic" not "P-otographic," so we should be pronouncing JPEG as "jayfeg" if we're applying that kind of logic to the matter.
mi1ez 22nd May 2013, 14:12 Quote
I use a G. I will continue to do thus. I will continue to look at people funny when describe a graphic as Jiff, which I still associate with a cleaning product. That is all.
Guinevere 22nd May 2013, 14:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
And, as I have pointed out, the second letter of JPEG represents the word "Photographic" not "P-otographic," so we should be pronouncing JPEG as "jayfeg" if we're applying that kind of logic to the matter.

No! "P" is never pronounced "F". "PH" can be. So JPEG cannot be pronounced JPHEG!

Sheesh...

GIF is pronounced GIF with a hard "G". Same as girl, gigaflop, gift, gimp, give, girth, giggle, giddy, gizmo, gills and git.

If he'd really wanted it to be pronounced 'jif' and cared so much about then he should have come up with a different acronym not one open to ambiguity.

End. Of.

But we can't blame the guy. His name is Steve Wilhite... which is too close to "Steve Will Hate" and "Steve Gob Shite" for my tastes.

Time to move on everyone. Popular usage eclipses legacy use. Take the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin who had to change their name from the Wisconsin Tourism Federation and drop their WTF acronym and logo. True story.
mi1ez 22nd May 2013, 14:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
GIF is pronounced GIF with a hard "G". Same as girl, gigaflop, gift, gimp, give, girth, giggle, giddy, gills and git.

And where do Giraffes feature?
Phalanx 22nd May 2013, 14:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mi1ez
And where do Giraffes feature?

As another misspelled word. ;)
jinq-sea 22nd May 2013, 14:37 Quote
or generators (or should that be jenerators?)
Gareth Halfacree 22nd May 2013, 14:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mi1ez
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
GIF is pronounced GIF with a hard "G". Same as girl, gigaflop, gift, gimp, give, girth, giggle, giddy, gills and git.
And where do Giraffes feature?
Precisely. Plus gist, giant, gigantic, ginseng, ginger and gingerly. Fun fact: there are two Gs in the English Language: the soft G, and the hard G. Your list of words uses the hard G; my list of words uses the soft G. Note that there's no way of knowing which is which from the spelling.

The fact remains: GIF is a soft G, and as a result is pronounced "jif" and (were it an actual word, rather than an acronym) would be in my list, not yours.
kenco_uk 22nd May 2013, 14:46 Quote
Now I understand why Jif had to rebrand to Cif.
lava 22nd May 2013, 14:49 Quote
Majority rules with this, gif more commonly used than jif. Heard a few people use jif before but the first time i heard it i wondered what the hell they were going on about.
Phalanx 22nd May 2013, 14:50 Quote
Agreed. Way too late now.
The_Crapman 22nd May 2013, 15:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenco_uk
Now I understand why Jif had to rebrand to Cif.
That was after complaints about too many ruined pancake days.

Oh wait i've got a good one......... VAGINA.
Spuzzell 22nd May 2013, 15:05 Quote
What?

No.

It's Guh IF, because it is. Sorry bald inventor man.
Spuzzell 22nd May 2013, 15:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Crapman


Oh wait i've got a good one......... VAGINA.

Conjratulations.
BentAnat 22nd May 2013, 15:11 Quote
Did the inventor of the word decide how to pronounce "colonel"? Yes? He's a f***ing idiot then.
In short: each to their own. Oxford says that both are ok... that's that then.
Bloodburgers 22nd May 2013, 15:12 Quote
By the rules of the English language the correct spelling of fish should be GHOTI
Dave Lister 22nd May 2013, 15:20 Quote
Hard G for me, but maybe I should change that now I've been educated in how to pronounce a file type extensions name !
Phalanx 22nd May 2013, 15:24 Quote
Definitely something ghotiy going on here...
jinq-sea 22nd May 2013, 15:24 Quote
What a complete goke. Hahahaha!
Ljs 22nd May 2013, 15:25 Quote
If he wanted it to be pronounced 'jif', he should have given it a .jif extension.
biojellywobbles 22nd May 2013, 15:33 Quote
Yay! I've been saying it right all along, screw all of you!
Gareth Halfacree 22nd May 2013, 15:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ljs
If he wanted it to be pronounced 'jif', he should have given it a .jif extension.
That has been taken by the JPEG Interchange Format, although to be fair that only came in 1991 - four years after GIF had been named.
Star*Dagger 22nd May 2013, 15:53 Quote
Funny how people can not accept correction. It has always been gif prounounced jif.

End of story.
Corky42 22nd May 2013, 15:57 Quote
As if dyslexics don't have enough to worry about....
Griffter 22nd May 2013, 15:57 Quote
Hard G baby.. all night long!
Draksis 22nd May 2013, 16:03 Quote
and not a single f**k was given
Zener Diode 22nd May 2013, 16:04 Quote
Dear Steve Wilhite

http://i.imgur.com/Cz3dUu0.jpg

Hard g makes more sense. If you want a word to be pronounced with soft g, use j instead, why not? Apply the reverse, if you have a word with a g, let it be a hard g. Having a soft g at all creates ambiguity. Just because words like giraffe exist, doesn't mean we should continue the trend.
bowman 22nd May 2013, 16:06 Quote
You may have invented the format but that doesn't mean you know anything about linguistics.
Tim S 22nd May 2013, 16:13 Quote
So basically, it's pronounced "Geoff" in Australian.
Guinevere 22nd May 2013, 16:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
The fact remains: GIF is a soft G, and as a result is pronounced "jif"

No. It's not pronounced 'jif'... Well it is but only by a very VERY small minority of people.

It is pronounced with a hard G, because that is how it is pronounced when most people say the word... and yes I'm now claiming it's a word too! Bite me.

Someone do a poll!
Gareth Halfacree 22nd May 2013, 16:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
No. It's not pronounced 'jif'... Well it is but only by a very VERY small minority of people.
"Eat poo! Eleven billion flies can't be wrong!"
law99 22nd May 2013, 16:57 Quote
What a weird argument. You have the guy telling you it is a soft G and no one wants to hear it, still, after all these years. Feel sorry for him. No wonder he doesn't look happy holding that spring.

On the plus point for him though, he has achieved more than most of us useless trolls and in the time being, won a giant spring. Now if he gets his PR right, he can bounce back big time.
Shirty 22nd May 2013, 17:11 Quote
It might just be me, but no f***s are being given at my end about any aspect of this, or indeed the ensuing debates all over Internetland.
PingCrosby 22nd May 2013, 17:15 Quote
'won't be long love, be with you in a gif'
faugusztin 22nd May 2013, 17:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
"Eat poo! Eleven billion flies can't be wrong!"

In non-english speaking countries it will be GIF anyway, no JIFF there :).
jinq-sea 22nd May 2013, 17:36 Quote
What's all this about Geoff?
Throbbi 22nd May 2013, 18:32 Quote
Who cares, JIF was crap anyway, gimme some AGAX any day
Joey Propane 22nd May 2013, 19:56 Quote
The only person I know who pronounces it "jiff" is my best mate, he's dyslexic as hell... I rest my case.
lava 22nd May 2013, 20:19 Quote
(Loving the giffgaff ad at the top of the page to go with this :D)
Jester_612 22nd May 2013, 20:28 Quote
My mates Gordon and Jordan are about to go to hell. :D

An' Jarf, why didn't you point out in a sarcastic weigh about the Oxford Dictionary only records usage of words; it's not an authority on what should be done.

Also the language has been continuously evolving, and the *******isation by foreign uptakers have wrought interesting results, which can be downright incomprehensible. So, is he a British aristocrat? If he is, I'll adopt it because I'm not one to argue with master.

Subtle argument cheesecake?
SAimNE 22nd May 2013, 20:32 Quote
still going to pronounce it with a hard g... mainly because that way even people completely unfamiliar with it(somehow) would know or easily be able to find out what you are talking about.... vs someone being confused and googing to find out wtf a jif is.
ZERO <ibis> 22nd May 2013, 20:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joey Propane
The only person I know who pronounces it "jiff" is my best mate, he's dyslexic as hell... I rest my case.

So your point is that even a retard can identify what the correct pronunciation is!?
Spreadie 22nd May 2013, 20:46 Quote
Meh, I'm quite happy to remain acronymically challenged and pronounce it with a hard G; even if everyone in the frikkin world starts calling it a jif. :D
Joey Propane 22nd May 2013, 21:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZERO <ibis>
So your point is that even a retard can identify what the correct pronunciation is!?

He can be a bloody idiot at times, but I wouldn't call him a retard...
Jester_612 22nd May 2013, 21:08 Quote
In the tradition of forum synomyms, I propose from this day forward; the great honorable Gareth Halfacree, henceforth be refereed to as Jaref Hal-faker for ever more.
dancingbear84 22nd May 2013, 21:11 Quote
Oh joy (or goy) another scone or scone (read skown or scon) argument for me to have with people.
Trouble is real world people couldn't care less, the only people who care are us geeky nerdy types, and I don't know about you but I'll argue about anything. Including scones. Or GIFs.

Sent from my ARCHOS 80 COBALT using Tapatalk HD
Tynecider 22nd May 2013, 21:19 Quote
Posh people pronounce it "g'jif" with a silent "G"???
Alecto 22nd May 2013, 21:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
By that logic, we should all be pronouncing JPEG as "jayfeg." After all, the P is for "Photographic," so if the G in GIF has to be a hard G to match "Graphics," the P in JPEG has to be an F sound to match "Photographic."

Jay-fag ? That was just too easy.
Necrow 22nd May 2013, 21:26 Quote
What date is it today...no wait April fools was ajes ajo wasn't it?
mute1 22nd May 2013, 22:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
So basically, it's pronounced "Geoff" in Australian.

New Zealand maybe.
Not Australia, thank you very much. :)
Harlequin 22nd May 2013, 22:22 Quote
we now have JPEG - that's ` GAYPEG`


I`ll get my coat
The_Crapman 23rd May 2013, 00:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
*snip*
Someone do a poll!
There's got to be a ww2 goke in there somewhere. I'm gust not funny enoujh to jet it.
Star*Dagger 23rd May 2013, 04:44 Quote
I wonder how the UK ever created an Empire. Oh wait they lost it all! lol
fluxtatic 23rd May 2013, 07:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bloodburgers
By the rules of the English language the correct spelling of fish should be GHOTI

No...it's a quirk of English that fish COULD be spelled ghoti, not that we've been spelling it wrong all this time. There's a huge difference.

Also, dude gets honored for creating it, and all that's covered is that he's pissed that we don't pronounce it correctly? Or he's really that pissed that we don't pronounce it correctly? Sorry, man - you accomplished more than I likely ever will and I admire that, but 'jiff' just sounds stupid...although the only peanut butter I'll buy is Jif.

Lastly, Star*Dagger, et al - congrats. Hope you enjoy no one knowing what the hell you're talking about when it comes up in conversation.
DriftCarl 23rd May 2013, 07:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Star*Dagger
I wonder how the UK ever created an Empire. Oh wait they lost it all! lol

Nobly gave it all away after we stabalised their country in peaceful independence talks ;)
Blazza181 23rd May 2013, 07:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Star*Dagger
I wonder how the UK ever created an Empire. Oh wait they lost it all! lol

The Jrate British Empire.
rayson 23rd May 2013, 08:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
No! "P" is never pronounced "F". "PH" can be. So JPEG cannot be pronounced JPHEG!

Sheesh...

GIF is pronounced GIF with a hard "G". Same as girl, gigaflop, gift, gimp, give, girth, giggle, giddy, gizmo, gills and git.

If he'd really wanted it to be pronounced 'jif' and cared so much about then he should have come up with a different acronym not one open to ambiguity.

End. Of.

But we can't blame the guy. His name is Steve Wilhite... which is too close to "Steve Will Hate" and "Steve Gob Shite" for my tastes.

Time to move on everyone. Popular usage eclipses legacy use. Take the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin who had to change their name from the Wisconsin Tourism Federation and drop their WTF acronym and logo. True story.

hehehehe girl
Harlequin 23rd May 2013, 09:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
No. It's not pronounced 'jif'... Well it is but only by a very VERY small minority of people.

It is pronounced with a hard G, because that is how it is pronounced when most people say the word... and yes I'm now claiming it's a word too! Bite me.

Someone do a poll!

Gem
Gym
Giraffe
Gin



not a hard G


te he he
law99 23rd May 2013, 11:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Star*Dagger
I wonder how the UK ever created an Empire. Oh wait they lost it all! lol

Little by little, piece by piece my friend. And you can play it in reverse.
SirFur 23rd May 2013, 19:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
That has been taken by the JPEG Interchange Format, although to be fair that only came in 1991 - four years after GIF had been named.


Hence, it makes even more sense to pronounce it with a hard G than a soft - that would be even more confusing than it already is. If .jif already exists now, there is now way .gif is going to be pronounced the same way. This is madness.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harlequin
we now have JPEG - that's `GAYPEG`

I LOL'd SO MUCH at this..... +1
Sloth 23rd May 2013, 19:22 Quote
You're all just confused because it uses the American spelling. Stick a silent "u" in there somewhere and it should all make sense: .giuf! :p
dancingbear84 23rd May 2013, 20:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harlequin
Gem
Gym
Giraffe
Gin



not a hard G


te he he

Or gigolo
Or Gill

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