GIF creator Steve Wilhite answered the enduring question of the age Tuesday night when he accepted his lifetime achievement award at the Webby Awards for his role in creating the Graphics Interchange Format.
Since the format was invented in 1987, it’s been around for awhile, but finally Wilhite felt moved to weigh in on the long-standing debate about how it’s pronounced.
Is it Jif® like the peanut butter that choosy mothers choose?
Or is it gift-without-a-tee?
“The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations. They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story,” the long-retired Wilhite proclaimed.
A few observers and news outlets took him at his word last night, running headlines that said things like CNN Tech’s “It’s Settled!”
Except, well, it just isn’t.
Consider a few of the hundreds, if not thousands, of tweets that ensued. Sure, a few uncritical thinkers fell in line.
It’s pronounced “JIF” not “GIF”.. Finally we have an answer.
— O’Neill (@AvatarOneill) May 22, 2013
But most people expressed incredulity. I guess there’s just no respect for the old dinosaurs any more.
I’m sorry, but the only time I am pronouncing “.gif” as “JIF” is when I am talking about Jif peanut butter spreads. #fuqthat — Andrew McGinty (@ItsDreamer) May 22, 2013
“Just because you created the word ‘GIF’ doesn’t mean you know how to pronounce it!” – The Internet.
— Ike Pigott (@ikepigott) May 22, 2013
Here’s an animated gif of a monkey in a suit riding a goat. Or is it pronounced “joat?”monk3y.tumblr.com/post/510548974…
— Paul Clayton Smith (@paulclaytnsmith) May 22, 2013
I could go on all day, for hundreds of tweets, most of them coming down firmly on the gift-without-a-tee side of things.
But you get the idea.
I analyzed the GIF tweets: 20% of people say Jif, 30% pronounce it correctly, and 50% want you to know they're too cool to care about it. — Andrew (@bn2b) May 22, 2013
For the record, I can remember the 1980s. I for one was always under the impression that the word was pronounced like the peanut butter, which the creator seems to be saying is in fact the original pronunciation.
Will you change how you pronounce GIF?
[peanut butter taste test photo by Sandister Tei via Wikimedia Commons]