back to article FLABBER-JASTED: It's 'jif', NOT '.gif', says man who should know

The internet - and especially the recently-sold content sausage machine Tumblr, epicentre of the animated gif rebirth - is reeling today at the news that when referring to image files formatted as .gifs one should pronounce it "jif". That's according to no less an authority than Steve Wilhite, the man who invented the Graphics …


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  1. AndrueC Silver badge

    Beware of geeks bearing GIFs.

    1. Darryl

      er, I THINK you meant 'Beware of jeeks bearing JIFs'

      1. Spudbynight

        On a related note the cleaner "JIF" had to be changed to "CIF" back in the 90s.

        The reason, Spanish speakers couldn't pronounce Jif.

        True story, bro.

    2. Jim in Hayward

      Mr. White

      is jay. a total guvenile.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I was extremely disturbed to discover when Americans pronounce the letter "Z" 'zee,' that is how we in Blighty used to pronounce it. The pronunciation "zed" came to be adopted during the war because when using radio communication the letter "zee" is very often misheard as the letter "C" (pronounced "see" of course). When pronounced "zed" such a mistake is far less likely.

      "But, but, that can't be." I spluttered on hearing the truth. "You mean that awful big bird on Sesame Street has been right all along and my kindergarten nurtured sense of superiority is has been built on imploding foundations."

      I have been shaken to the core and have yet to recover.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Phonetically Z is pronounced as Zebra not Zeeeeeeeeeeeeebra. Again the Americans hijack a language and claim it as there own.

        One point to mention here, when the US voted on a national language there were only three votes away from speaking German. Gott in Himmel!

        1. Martin

          ...and claim it as THEIR own.


          1. Rick Giles

            @ Martin Re: ...and claim it as THEIR own.

            So, do you speak English or The Queen's English? Come off your high horse.

          2. Rick Giles

            @Martin Re: ...and claim it as THEIR own.

            And besides, we'll all be speaking Chinese soon anyway. So quit your bitchin'

        2. MacGyver


          So the G stands for Jraphics? Makes perfect sense. How about he just gets over it, and just pronounces it like the rest of us do. Here's why rocket scientist inventor guy.

          "Did you get the `JIF`?"

          "No, we have plenty of peanut butter in the cabinet."

          "No, the `JIF` image file I sent you?"

          "Oh, yes I did. By the way, what does JIF even stand for?"

          "Why GRAPHICS IMAGE FILE my dear."

          "Oh, so when we have to say `JIF image file` we are really saying `Graphics Image File Image File`?"


          "And that is better or smaller why?"

          "That is what the guy who put the J in GRAPHICS wanted."

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            It stands for Graphics Interchange Format.

            At least make sure your facts are right, otherwise your facepalm is just for yourself.

          2. hughca

            Re: JRAPHICS

            I believe that's "Graphics Interchange Format"

          3. Anonymous Coward

            Re: JRAPHICS

            Exactly, G as in Graphics so GIF not JIF. Just because Mr Whatever invented the format doesn't make him a language expert right?! :o)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          No, damnit. There was NEVER any such vote to make German the official language. There was, once, way back at the beginning, a vote as to whether to have the laws printed in German in addition to English. That vote was close, but it was voted down and never came up again.

          This seems to be a common misconception in Europe. I first heard it from a German, and now from a clueless Brit who oviously lacks a good grasp of his own language - or do "there" and "their" have different meanings in British English than they do in American English?

          1. Trustme

            "British English than they do in American English"

            British English is simply English. You wouldn't say someone speaks "German German" just because there are other deformations of the language in other countries. The fact there are American and other bastardisations of the language doesn't change the fact that English as spoken by the English (read British) is still simply English. When you refer to "English" you are default referring to the English spoken by the English (read British), it's only when you talk about one of the variant bastardisations of the language you need to qualify it with "American" et al.

            1. Irony Deficient

              German German, usw.

              Trustme, on the contrary, one would say that someone speaks German German, when it would be necessary to contrast it to other national variants of German. This usage even exists in German itself: try searching for either „deutsches Deutsch“ or „das deutsche Deutsch“ in your preferred search engine.

              Thus, one could just as well say that someone speaks English English, for the same purpose of contrast. Consider the section on shall and will in Fowler’s The King’s English. These two words were, and are, completely interchangeable in Scots English, Irish English, US English, and beyond, but had (if not still have) distinct definitions in English English. Now, if you were to repeat that last sentence without the adjective English, so that it ended just in English, the contrast would not be nearly so clear.

          2. PJI


            "different ... THAN...? Aaaaargh.

            As any English speaker knows, it is "different FROM" and "similar TO". Just think, would you say, "X differs FROM Y" or "X differs THAN Y" or "X differs TO Y"? Americans do use a lot of German and Yiddish (a sort of mixed up German plus others) grammar. American is, after all, English spoken by foreigners. As English speakers, we can still speak English or try any rate.

            1. Babbit55

              Re: Pardon?

              May I just point out that is would actually be pronounced JIF in the English language since the G is followed by a I as in Giraffe.


              1. sdb

                Re: Pardon?

                Yes, obviously, because it is a giraffe interchange format.

                That makes me giggle (but it takes a real belly laugh to make me jiggle).

              2. Ed_UK

                Re: Pardon?

                "May I just point out that is would actually be pronounced JIF in the English language since the G is followed by a I as in Giraffe."

                Yebbut - Brits would refer to someone as "an old git" and USians might "git going" - all with a hard-G. Maybe those are exceptions, but they're the first ones which come to mind. Now, Ginger...

            2. Irony Deficient

              “Americans do use a lot of German and Yiddish grammar.”

              PJI, which areas of German and Yiddish grammar do we Yanks use in our variety of English? Nouns always title-cased? Verbs always second in a clause? Perfective verb prefixes? Separable compound verb prefixes punted to the end of a clause? Adverbial particles?

        4. Irony Deficient

          phonetic pronunciation of Z

          Anonymous Coward of 06:48 GMT, phonetically, Z is the voiced alveolar fricative; as such, the phonetic pronunciation of Z is neither /zɛd/ (“zed”) nor /ziː/ (“zee”), but simply /z/.

          Again the Americans hijack a language and claim it as [their] own? What exactly is the count of languages that we sinister Medioleftpondians have hijacked and claimed as our own, by your reckoning? Are we holding these languages for ransom, demanding Yankgeld to let their lawful owners spell and pronounce words as they see fit?

          Regarding your other point, this newly minted novelty nation has never had an official language, although a number of the constituent states do. As Anonymous Coward of 08:15 GMT mostly noted, Pennsylvania in the late 18th century nearly approved having a German translation of its laws printed, as at that time native German speakers represented a significant proportion of that state’s population.

      2. Anonymous Cowerd

        "that is how we in Blighty used to pronounce it"

        No it isn't.

        explanation here

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: explanation here

          "Cookies, elevator, french fries, truck; don't say 'petrol' or you suck."

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: explanation here

            "don't say 'petrol' or you suck."

            I have heard that for some people, that's the only way they can afford to get petrol these days. Although I also heard that it gives you gas.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        A Kindergarten? In the UK? Something smells fishy here...

      4. Dom 3

        Wikipedia notes "in American English, its name is 'zee' /ˈziː/, deriving from a late 17th century English dialectal form" and also points out that everybody else in Europe (more or less) uses a similar form. IOW the British version is the original. In this case at any rate - we've all gotten used to the idea of the opposite being true.

        The American military used "zed" in their phonetic alphabet for a while:

        which may have given rise to the story.

      5. goldcd


        -ise versus -ize

        I'd always assumed that 'ise' was 'correct' and 'ize' was just something the yanks had made up to annoy us.

        Seemingly not that simple and the switch from "ize" to "ise" enforced (rather than being seen as a preference to argue over between Oxford and Cambridge) by the EU definition of English..

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If he had wanted it to sound like Jif he should have spelt it Jif and not Gif. Flaming Americans, they think they invented the English language...

      1. Rick Giles

        @Anonymous Coward 06:44

        No, we didn't invent it. God knows if we had it wouldn't be so full of all the double mean words that sound alike.

        As, is such, I have to correct just about everyone that I meet because of that hard G Soft G business when they pronounce my last name.

        Thank you for donating such a wonderful language to the world.

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Gif as in giraffe.. Nothing American about that

      3. RonAnon

        No, we didn't invent the English language, but we made it relevant. It's because of us that English is the world's business language. So, in that light, it's color - not colour. Get it right. And, stop replacing words that end in "a" with an "er" sound, and vice versa.

    5. The Serpent

      Never look a GIFt horse in the mouth

      I always thought it was pronounced 'jif', but I learned I was labouring under a misunderstanding as I was first told it stood for 'General Image Format', so it made sense to me to pronounce the G as J (i.e. Jeneral, not General)

  2. Anonymous Coward


    At school everyone thought Sega was pronounced "See Ga". Imagine our surprise when Sonic came out and when you turned the game on up flashed the logo and "Say Ga" came out the speakers.

    1. Shades

      Re: Sega

      Oddly I, and everyone else I knew at school, pronounced it as "SayGa". Perhaps pronunciation differences, prior to the release of, Sonic was a regional thing, or my friends and I, pronouncing it correctly, were bigger geeks than we thought?

      1. Uncle Siggy

        Re: Sega

        "or my friends and I, pronouncing it correctly, were bigger geeks than we thought?"

        One of the qualifications of being a geek is not being aware that you are.

      2. Lallabalalla

        Re: Sega

        Or perhaps you're that much younger and the truth was already out there?

        1. Shades

          @Lallabalalla. Re: Sega

          "Or perhaps you're that much younger and the truth was already out there?"

          I wish I was, but unfortunately not. Like the OP, I too pre-date the release of Sonic.

    2. firefly

      Re: Sega

      I get riled at people who think Nike, both the sporting goods manufacturer and the Greek goddess of victory, only has one syllable.

      1. M Gale

        Re: Nike

        Nike has only one syllable.

        Niké on the other hand...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nike

          Expats to USA might have heard: 'Putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable'?

          Ah language. Putting the em-FAAA-sis on the wrong sil-a-BELLLL...

          Toe-may-to...Toe-maaaaaa-to... Po-tay-to..Po-taaaa-to

          1. AGR

            Re: Nike

            As this particular expat Yank says to his English wife: I'll start saying tomahto when you start saying potahto.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Nike

              The pronunciation 'tom-ah-toe' has a more appropriate sound to it when talking about a fruit... just try saying it in an effeminate accent and you'll see what I mean!

      2. Rick Giles

        @firefly Re: Sega

        Ahh, the consistency of English. So how do you pronounce - LIKE, HIKE, BIKE, PIKE, MIKE, DIKE, TIKE, etc?

    3. M Gale

      Re: Sega

      Of course if you're following the same daft rules as elsewhere on the thread, you should be pronouncing it "Serga".

      Service Games, and all. Wonder if they still make pinball machines for the US army?

    4. James Henstridge

      Re: Sega

      I pronounced it "See Ga" too, but that's because all the TV ads in Australia at the time pronounced it that way too.

  3. Tzael


    GIF - Graphics Interchange Format...

    Are we all supposed to say 'jraphics' from now on?

    1. Code Monkey

      Re: Acronymity...

      I tried Joojling it but it wasn't clear.

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: Acronymity...

        No you don't Joojle it, you search using Joojle. *

        * another failed attempt to tell people what to say.

    2. Richard IV

      Re: Acronymity...

      we surrealists pronounce it giraffics.


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