It is remarkable how much ire can be raised when one stakes a controversial position on an issue of the day. No, I’m not talking about guns, taxes, government wiretapping, or a political party. I’m talking about the pronunciation of GIF.
The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) was invented by Steve Wilhite at CompuServe in 1987. Wilhite has been out of the public eye for many years (he retired in 2001), but the Webby Awards tracked him down in order to present him with a lifetime achievement award.
He spoke to Amy O’Leary at the New York Times about the long-running controversy. In short, right-minded people follow his lead. He told O’Leary, “The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations. They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.” The rest of you lot insist that the word graphic in the GIF name means it’s a hard G sound, but that’s simply not how it started.
Way back in the before time, in 1997, when TidBITS briefly pupped the Internet-focused spinoff NetBITS (run by your intrepid editor), we provided a definitive explanation that proved today to be as accurate as we always thought it was: “It’s ‘Jiff’ and I Don’t Want to Hear Another Word.”
Now for a ride on my giraffe while drinking a gin and tonic. I’m off to catch a ghoti! G’day, m8!