You see an animated picture on the web. Is it a GIF or a JIF?

For decades, this simple question has ignited controversy and set up warring factions. How are you supposed to say it? And why is this even a question? What’s the deal with the letter G?

Linguist Daniel Midgley has answers — but you’re not going to like them — on this episode of Talk the Talk.

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I’ve always called it a GIF (like ‘gift’ but with no ‘t’). That’s the only way I’ve ever heard it — on two continents, no less. But I’m aware that some people call it a ‘jif’. I guess I don’t move in those circles. But I can accept that both are okay because, hey, I can accept the validity of things I don’t actually do. What a concept!

Seriously, isn’t it weird that intelligent people can accept other people’s right to do things they don’t do themselves — eat meat, have threesomes, wear plaid — but when it comes to language, they’re like “ERADICATE THE DEVIATORS!”

Anyway, this show’s about GIF, and it’s a fun one. We even strap into the time machine and find out about the letter G.

And if that’s not enough, there’s even a blooper from today’s show.

Show notes

I’m a fan of reverse GIFs. Perhaps FIGs?

Yep, eating cotton candy / fairy floss in reverse:

Here’s a pro-JIF site.

The inventor of the GIF format, Steve Wilhite, was honoured with a Webby award last week. He always insisted that it was ‘jif’.

And he took the opportunity to make that point in lieu of an acceptance speech.

But who cares?

“GIF inventor proves there are no limits on acting like a chode”

The controversy rages unabated.

The US President has plumped for ‘gif’

But I’m more inclined to listen to William Labov. refuses to take a stand.

Really, both are correct.

This is a really terrible compromise.

Hey, look, it’s a Jif GIF.

1.21 gigawatts of power?!


Breaking: White House Tumblr says it’s GIF, with a ‘hard G’

The letter G used to be a C.

And it’s had a lot of pronunciations.

More from Wikipedia

Show tunes

‘Gigantic’ by the Pixies
from the album Surfer Rosa

‘Gila’ by Beach House
from the album Devotion