This debate has been all over the internet ever since the creation of the little devil, the GIF. Many argue whether it’s pronounced GIF or JIF. Spoiler alert, it’s pronounced with a hard G.
Now, before you lash out, hear us out.
The first encounter
Imagine that you just encountered the word GIF for the first time. You read it somewhere online. The most natural way to pronounce it is with a hard G, and that’s likely the way you would pronounce it at first. But then again, many people have encountered special “snowflakes” who want to be different from others, and they vehemently say that it’s pronounced JIF.
Steve Wilhite, the creator of the Graphics Interchange Format, says he, “deliberately chose to echo the American peanut butter brand, Jif, and CompuServe employees would often say ‘Choosy developers choose GIF (JIF),’ playing off of Jif’s television commercials.” Multiple websites use this direct quote to argue on the pronunciation.
The problem is that every single website that argues for JIF uses the fact that the creator says it’s pronounced with a soft G, and for some, it seems to end the discussion. He did the technology part, we can all agree, but he invented the Graphics Interchange Format, not the acronyms and the way we pronounce them. You can’t build a ping-pong table and call it a banana (unless you weirdly want to) just because you created that table. Or like in food, let’s say you invent a new type of pie, you cannot call it a rock just because you feel like it!
Where the confusion actually lies
Some parties of the opposition use gem, giraffe, gym, gin, etc. as counterexamples, but they are all invalid. Gem comes from Latin, where it’s Jemma, and we took the pronunciation with it. Giraffe comes from the Arabic Zarafa then the Portuguese Girafa. “Gym” is the same as the gem situation, it comes from the Latin Gymnasium. The name “Gin” comes from the plant which its made from, juniper.
Most of the words pronounced with a soft G are pronounced like this because they come from other languages where the word had the pronunciation with a soft G. In some European languages, GE/GI is always pronounced with a soft G, and GHE/GHI is always with a hard G (eg. in Romanian).
The closest word to GIF is gift, since you just add a T and you’ve got the link between the words.
The first word of the acronym is graphics. You don’t say “jraphics,” do you now? Sure, Papa GIF says it’s pronounced JIF and that’s the “only correct version,” but the Oxford English Dictionary accepts both variants, and the Chief Editor says that there is no point in correcting the term in the dictionary, because it is already too widespread. If it were to be pronounced JIF, then it would be written in this manner; but it’s not, so HA!
Even Google Translate pronounces it GIF:
Also, a study has shown that if you pronounce JIF, it’s more likely that you will become a puppy murderer. DON’T. RISK. IT.***
So this concludes the argument on how you should actually pronounce GIF. Have fun and don’t forget: BE NORMAL, PEOPLE.
***Disclaimer!!! No actual study has revealed this.