This week, the creator of the GIF has declared once and for all that it’s pronounced with a soft G, like ‘jif’, not ‘gif’. This revelation has sent the internet into uproar, and has agitated the jif vs gif debate rather than quelled it.
On Tuesday, Steve Wilhite was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the Webby Awards, for bringing us the GIF, or graphics interchange format. These image files can be animated and have been used to spread joy and laughter to many online.
Wilhite’s GIF was first introduced in 1987 by CompuServe, making last year the 25th anniversary of the dynamic file type. Today, GIFs are used in display advertising, as well as to capture short, looped clips of video footage, to generate memes, and more.
Unfortunately, while the internet was certainly in agreement that GIFs are fun to share, arguments on how to pronounce the acronym were rampant, with camps divided into the hard G giffers and the soft G jiffers.
Those on the hard G side and from the US often went with the argument that ‘gif’ refers to an image file, while ‘jif’ refers to a brand of peanut butter. (On this side of the Atlantic, we used to substitute peanut butter for a cleaning product, only they changed the name of that.)
You could say this debate has been raging for 25 years.
There was no end in sight.
But then, on news of his Webby award, Wilhite tried to clear things up for The New York Times Bits blog. “The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations. They are wrong. It is a soft G, pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story,” he stated.
Team Hard G was flummoxed.
For some, the world as they knew it came crashing down.
Some were disillusioned to discover they had been saying it wrong this whole time.
Others seem to think they know better than the father of the GIF.
While some simply could not handle the truth.
For the jiffers, this marked a victory.
They could afford to be smug.
If you’ve been saying one thing your whole life and one day have to change, it can be disorienting.
But don’t feel overwhelmed.
There’s no reason to freak out.
There’ll still be plenty of animated jifs.
Really, there’s only one thing to do.