At the Webby Awards last night, Steve Wilhite, creator of the GIF, used his lifetime achievement award acceptance speech to inform the public that his most famous invention is “pronounced JIF, not GIF.” He did so using a GIF, naturally.
Wilhite is wrong. GIFs are GIFs, not JIFs, because “Graphics Interchange Format” starts with a hard “G” and because only dummies and idiots say JIF. Wilhite may believe that just because he invented the web’s new favorite file format way back in 1997, he has license to dictate how it’s pronounced. Contemporary literary theorists beg to differ, and descriptive linguists know the truth of a language comes from the people who use it, not from some dictator on high.
So, Mr. Wilhite, I appreciate the medium you’ve created and all of the art and porn it has spawned, but until you can show me real people who pronounce it like it’s some cheap, nasty peanut butter, I’ll keep saying “GIF,” thank you very much.
Watch Wilhite’s (admittedly pretty funny) acceptance speech above.