Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Team Soft G

Apparently, at least on Twitter, today is the day for all parties to declare their allegiance on the matter of the pronunciation of “GIF,” the Graphics Interchange Format.

I stand with the soft G. (The “JIF” pronunciation, if you must.)

My reasons, like my wallet, are bifold:

  1. The creator of the format, Steve Wilhite, said that it is pronounced with a soft G, and this pronunciation was endorsed by his employer, CompuServe. The peanut-butter-like pronunciation was intentional. In my opinion, it is reasonable to grant inventors the privilege of naming their inventions, including their pronunciation*.  This privilege makes at least as much sense as patent protection.
  2. The usual hard-G argument is that “Graphics” is pronounced with a hard G, so GIF should be as well. This is a stupid argument, based on a non-existent, made-up rule that is not invoked for any other acronym. Anyone who advances this argument deserves to lose**.

* Within reason, at least.
** Anyone who pronounces “SCUBA” with a short U, “UNICEF” with a CH , “LASER” with a short A and soft S (not Z), and “NASCAR” with a schwa for the first A is exempt from argument #2.

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