It's time we took some advice from George Gershwin and stopped bickering over the right and wrong way to say words: Let's call the whole thing off on this GIF pronunciation battle. During his lifetime achievement ceremony at the Webby awards the GIF creator himself, Steve Wilhite, gave what should be the final word on the oft-argued about pronunciation of the retro file format that has made a comeback in recent years: "The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations," Wilhite conceded, per the New York Times's Amy O'Leary. "They are wrong. It is a soft 'G,' pronounced 'jif.' End of story," he went on to say. Of course that wasn't the end of the story, with hard-G evangelizers continuing to preach on Twitter what they perceive as correct: GIF like a gift. Despite being a soft-G person myself, in light of Wilhite's on-the-record remarks it's time that both sides gave up the fight and reconciled that both GIF, like the peanut butter, and GIF, like a present, are acceptable ways to say the term.
Both soft and hard-G pronunciations are technically acceptable, as linguists explained in this post over at The Atlantic way back in 2011. There are two undeniable facts in this debate: 1. The creators of the file format used a soft G, as Wilhite explained Tuesday night. 2. Language evolves and everyone understands that hard-G GIF means a looping, animated picture on the Internet — so it's also acceptable. See: Everyone wins.
At this point, fighting over how to say the word is like arguing over the NEEther, NIther pronunciation, which is just a really silly thing to spend our time doing. So the next time you get involved in one such argument about how to out-loud say the file-format just send your opponent this "GIF to end all GIFs" via Gawker's Adrian Chen.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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