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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Gif or Jif? The Definitive Answer to One of Life's Most Important Questions

Posted by Bobby Roberts on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 10:44 AM

As we move into the future, we as a people are going to face questions that will have hard answers, because as technology outraces us all, we'll have no precedents to look back on in some situations. So we'll have to trust in our judgment, and hope that future generations will benefit from our wisdom, such as it is.

One of those questions - maybe one of the most important of those questions - is how the fuck do we pronounce all the stupid shit we acronym on the internet?

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Yes, as we move forward, I'm sure the need to speak will eventually decrease, our language being completely replaced by series of youtube videos, sound effects from video games, and of course, animated .gifs. But until then, these soft, inefficient bodies with their silly, organic hooting communication techniques, will need to vocalize with each other to express themselves. And so, we've gotta figure out a way to translate all the endlessly amusing bullshit we create on the internet into a collection of intelligible syllables and sounds.

Being as the .gif is enjoying such a renaissance that the New York Times is running stories on it, Twitter is trying to improve upon it, and Tumblr, one of the fastest growing social networks ever, wouldn't exist without it. It's not going anywhere (in fact, it's died and been resurrected once already) and as such, we should probably figure out how the hell to say it.

It's gif with a hard g.

This is where you, dear reader, discover what kind of fucking pedant you are. Right now. The sentence I typed above either had you nodding in agreement like "of course it is," or it caused a raging synapse to fire, leaving the nerve it struck jangling and heated. You're probably fighting off the urge to scroll past the rest of my useless prattle to verbalize your pedantry in as condescending a manner as possible this very second.

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But please, before you do that, hear me out. The comments section will still exist below, for now; content providers are slowly learning that the comments, much like chat-windows for livestreams, essentially serve no real function, add no real benefit, and are still only around because everyone is used to the idea that they're supposed to be there. They're like a vestigial tail, or an appendix, largely unneccessary, waiting to fill with poison and burst. But if you get to the end of this and you still feel I'm an ignorant shitbrick, feel free to unload while you can.

This is what I tweeted yesterday.

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What I'm referencing is this, from The Gif Pronunciation Page:

Charlie Reading writes:

I worked with the creator of GIF (Steve Wilhite) when I was still employed by CompuServe. Steve always pronounced it "jiff" and would correct those who pronounced it with a hard G. "Choosy developers choose GIF" (spinning off of a historically popular peanut butter commercial).

If you want to make a difference in this pronunciation conundrum, print this piece of NetBITS out and send it to the person who writes your local newspaper's technology or Internet column. We now have the specification's authoritative pronunciation. Let's stamp out the hard "g," however logical, once and for all.

The above was tweeted back at me, and variations on this thinking were thrown at me, overhand, like a water-balloon full of righteous urine.

To which I respond: I don't give a shit.

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Okay, so Steve Wilhite created the .gif. Thank you, Mr. Wilhite, for making it possible to look at all manner of animated glory.

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But your decision to pronounce this fucking thing with a soft "G" was stupid, and I'm not going to adhere to it, nor should anyone. Basic logic shouldn't just get chucked out the window because your bar for self-amusement is low as fuck. The word .gif is an acronym for Graphics Interchange Format. Graphics. Not Jraphics. Mr. Reading's request that we stamp out self-acknowledged, obvious logic for the sake of adhering to a counter-intuitive, needlessly confusing decision, just so Mr. Wilhite can chuckle to himself in the office? That's a stupid fucking reason. If it was a decent joke at least, maybe. But it's not, so fuck that.

Cue the armchair English majors pointing out all the possible loopholes, variations, and exceptions to common sense.

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You're acting as if Wilhite's decision was carefully made, taking into account all the fun little foibles of the English language, as opposed to how it was really made: A doof, giggling to himself over making a peanut butter joke. Such a man is not a God of English whose decree is sacrosanct, and further, as any English major (armchair or otherwise) should know, the English language is a fluid one. So go massage your grammarboner somewhere else, because you're not helping.

It's Gif. With a hard G. It was dumb when Wilhite was telling people around the CompuServe offices to stop saying it that way, it's dumb now. Stop being dumb. Or at least, save it for when dumb is best deployed: In a delicious, bite-sized bit of time-killing beauty.

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