Creator Of The GIF Tells Us How To Pronounce It
The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) was among the first graphics files to appear when the Internet started to become a public phenomenon. For a long time, though, it became eclipsed by JPG and other file formats that had the advantage of rendering equal or superior quality graphics in a smaller file size. Recently, though, GIF has been returning to prominence due to the ability to use it to create animations. The one mystery that has remained, though, is how to pronounce the file extension name, with debates between the hard and soft G taking up more time than they probably should. Now, the guy who created the file format has weighed in:
Among the thousands of file formats that exist in modern computing, the GIF, or Graphics Interchange Format, has attained celebrity status in a sea of lesser-known BMPs, RIPs, FIGs and MIFFs. It was honored as a “word of the year” in 2012, and Tuesday night, its inventor, Steve Wilhite, will be accepting a lifetime achievement award at The Webby Awards.
Now, almost any fragment of digital culture can be spun up into a grainy, gratifying animation. GIFs provide a platform for nearly everything, it seems — from rapid-fire political commentary to digital art to smallmoments of celebrity intrigue.
Since retiring in 2001, Mr. Wilhite has led a quieter existence than his creation. He goes on RV trips. He built a house in the country with a lot of lawn to mow. He dabbles in color photography and Java programming. He uses e-mail and Facebook to keep up with family.
He is proud of the GIF, but remains annoyed that there is still any debate over the pronunciation of the format.
“The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations,” Mr. Wilhite said. “They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.”
So, that settles it, right?