Yes, You Can Pronounce GIF With A Soft-G Or Hard-G, Settle Down, Francis

“Hey, can you send me that JIF file–”

“HA HA WHAT DID YOU SAY? DID YOU SAY JIF.”

“Yes, JIF file, it’s a–”

“HA HA LOLWUT IS IT A JRAPHICS INTERLACED FILE? I WAS THINKING OF HAVING SOME VEGETABLES TONIGHT, MAYBE SOME JREEN BEANS WITH MAYBE SOME JARLIC AS SEASONING. WHO SHOOTS FIRST, IS IT HAN SOLO OR JREEDO? WASN’T IT FORREST JRUMP THAT SAID LIFE IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES? HA HA HA YOU DUMDUM IT’S GIF, HARD-G, BRO. LIKE ME. A HARD-G.”

“Oh. Okay. Hold on I need just to push this button.”

*trapdoor opens under Mister Hard-G, and he feeds the alligators in the pit, and his last words are, BUT ARE THEY CALLED ALLIJATORS HA HA OHH GOD THEY’RE EATING MY INTESTINES*

So.

Let’s talk about this.

I ranted a bit on Twitter this morning but feel like this needs to be carved into the digital space that I own, aka, this blog.

I ran a BBS when I was a kid — a bulletin-board-system, for those baby nerds not in the know. I did this unbeknownst to my parents, actually; I had a phone line that I essentially took over and plugged into my computer so instead of talking to people on the phone like a normal teenager, I was Proto-Internetting with Local Randos as a SysOp. (Sidenote: parents, keep up with technology or your kids are going to be able to do loop-de-loops around you. Just a tip.) I ran a few different instances, Telegard, WWIV, and the names of the BBS changed from Shadowlands to Bizarroworld to — shit, I forget the others. Whatever! I was vaguely plugged into computers and proto-hacker culture, I modded my own computer, I hosted warez and early bitmap porn and all that fun stuff. I then later became a Systems Technical Manager or some shit — meaning I was a one-man IT department for a (get this) fashion merchandising company. I also ran web stuff for a company that was basically just an advanced form of illegal radio payola, I worked for an internet provider, I did a lot of techie stuff despite not having a real techie background (I went to school for readin’ and writin’ dontcha know, what with all these fancy bookmathings I put out.)

And I, along with the people I worked with, pronounced GIF file as JIF.

It’s just how everyone I knew said it.

JIF. JIF File. Like the peanut butter. Like the saying, back in a jiff.

And then somewhere in the last 10-15 years, from the Shadows of Mordor, arose a peculiar kind of pedantry about it — yes, the acronym stands for GRAPHICS INTERCHANGE FORMAT, and it was said, with great certain gusto (or jreat certain justo?) that because of that hard-G word at the fore, the acronym just also be pronounced with the same unswerving, unyielding G.

Like gravity, you could not fucking deny it. It was suddenly Nerd Law.

And that’s fine if you wanna pronounce it that way.

Just don’t lecture about it.

Here’s why:

You’re wrong.

Not about your pronunciation! Again, I don’t care how you pronounce it, long as people understand what you mean. You’re wrong about your logic — you are writing a logical check that the history of language cannot cash.

You are asserting that acronyms must be pronounced a certain way based on the pronunciation of the words that form that acronym.

So, what about YOLO?

You Only Live Once.

The O in Once is pronounced… Wuh. Wunce.

So, do you pronounce it YOLO?

Or YOL-WUH?

What about LASER? Yep, laser is an acronym.

It stands for:

Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

I’ll bet though that you pronounce laser with a z-sound for the s, right? But that’s wrong, by the logic of hard-G GIF, isn’t it? Should be pronounced lay-sser, like you’re Cobra Commander. (Or, if you’re really cuckoo bananapants about that pronunciation, layster.)

SCUBA stands for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.

But you probably say scooba not scuhbba, right?

What about…

JPEG?

That’s right, let’s talk about another graphical file format. The JPEG, like the GIF, is a pretty popular file format in the graphic/photographic space. And I’m gonna go ahead and make a brave, bold guess that you pronounce it JAY-PEG, right? And here you, imagined verbal sparring partner, will snarkily note that the G in JAY-PEG is that hard, turgid, erect ‘g’ because the G in JPEG stands for Group.

But what about the other letters?

JPEG = Joint Photographic Experts Group.

So, the P in JPEG is a soft Ph-sound, meaning, an F-sound.

So…

Surely, surely you will now pronounce it JAY-FEG, right? I mean, by your unswerving logic and infallible grammatical reality, you cannot possibly continue to pronounce it JAY-PEG, right? Except you will. Because that’s how people pronounce it.

Listen, I get it, in this day and age we like to have hard and fast answers about stuff, and we especially like to be haughty and know-it-ally when it comes to the English language, but the English language is a baby carriage stuffed with hot dogs, set on fire, and pushed down some steps toward a a bouncey-house full of schnauzers. It’s a fucking mess. Rough! Cough! Dough! Bough! Are any of those words pronounced the same? Why no, no they are not.

If I say JIF file and you say GIF file, we both understand what the other means, and that, ultimately, is the point. So, be not superior — soft-g or hard-g adherents — and accept that both ways are perfectly fucking fine, thankayouveddymuch.

Now please buy my books! Have you considered Damn Fine Story, which is pronounced Dammun Feen Storf, or Blackbirds, which is pronounced Fook-birbs, or maybe Invasive, which is pronounced Sir William Hottentot Schmeebly Fidget Junior? Have a great* day!

*jreat