In 1987, a Compuserve programmer named Steve Wilhite invented the .GIF file compression format which allowed for color pictures to be sent over the internet much faster than previous compression techniques allowed for. Eventually the .JPEG format became more popular for picture file compression, but the .GIF has recently regained it’s popularity for its ability to render brief, grainy animation that can be looped repeatedly often with hilarious results.
Stupidly, however there has been disagreement about how to pronounce the made-up word “.GIF” (with a hard G- “Gif”, or a soft G, “Jif”) even though the creator and namer of the .GIF says it is pronounced “Jif”
As someone who believes parents have the right to name their own children, I also believe Wilhite has the right to name his brainchild, regardless of the pronunciation. The mother of Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade named him that but pronounced it “Dwane” and not “Dw-YANE”. Most English enthusiasts find the spelling/pronunciation rather curious, but none of us are marching to Ms. Wade’s house to inform her that she is incorrect about how to pronounce that she gave. We acknowledge her right to pronounce something which she made up as she pleases.
Somehow this courtesy was not extended to Mr. Wilhite as even the Oxford English Dictionary has found it necessary to declare .GIF can be pronounced “Giff” (hard G) and “Jiff”. Such a presumptuous precedent makes me wonder if people at the Oxford English Dictionary pronounce their establishment that way or if they call it the Oxford Enjlish Dick-TEE-Own-AIR-EE, since apparently every pronunciation is open to interpretation according to them.
For the JIF pronouncers out there, here is some more bad news that just crossed my desk.
1. Sean is pronounced “Sh-awn” and not “see an”.
2. George is not pronounced “Gee or Gee”
3. Rough is not pronounced “Ro-ug-hhhh”
4. Motion is not pronounced “Mot-ion”, “Mo-tee-on”, or “Mo-tee-on”, or “Mo-Tie-On”
5. Lasagna is not pronounced “La-sog-na”, “La-sag-na” or “La-sag-NAY”
6. Sioux is not pronounced “Si-O-UX”
7. Segue is pronounced as “seg-way” even though….
7. Rogue is pronounced “Ro-ug”, and not, “Ro-Goo” or “Ro-Gway”
8. Rouge is not pronounced “Ro-Gee”, “Roo-Gee” or “Ro-ug”
9. Jheri curl is not pronounced “Gary Curl”. (unless you’re talking about Gary Sheffield’s jheri curl, in which case Gary Curl is permissible)
10. George (pronounced with two soft G’s) Bernard Shaw was right to allege that “ghoti” could be pronounced “fish”