Ain't nothing but a GIF/JIF thing: GIF creator wins Webby, issues pronunciation decree

Think peanut butter: “It’s pronounced JIF, not GIF.” That was the five-word acceptance speech of Steve Wilhite, creator of the GIF, after he was presented a lifetime achievement award Tuesday at the Webby Awards. (See video below)

“End of story,” Wilhite says, according to the New York Times.

That settles that, right? Not on the Interwebs, where nothing ever seems settled and no one gets to have the last word. CNN points to a couple of tweets that are hard to argue with: “Graphics Interchange Format. Graphics. Not Jraphics,” and “I suppose those animals with long necks are called ‘JIRAFFES.’ ” Even the White House had weighed in recently; it leans toward the hard “g.”

The graphics interchange format was released in 1987, when Wilhite worked for Compuserve. The animated GIF, which spawned classic memes such as the dancing baby — has enjoyed a resurgence lately, perhaps because of the rise of Tumblr. Oxford Dictionaries, which says both pronunciations are OK, named GIF word of the year in 2012. And as SiliconBeat’s Brandon Bailey noted the other day, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer used a couple of animated GIFs in announcing the Sunnyvale company’s $1.1 billion purchase of the blogging platform.

 

Levi Sumagaysay Levi Sumagaysay (3939 Posts)

Levi Sumagaysay is editor of the combined SiliconBeat and Good Morning Silicon Valley. She also helps take care of SiliconValley.com, the Mercury News tech website. Email: lsumagaysay (at) bayareanewsgroup (dot-com).