How to Pronounce GIF
Internet sleuths have debated how to pronounce GIF for decades. If you’re with the majority of internet goers, you probably side with the ‘hard g’ camp. There are but a humble few who actually know the truth…
The word GIF is pronounced with a soft ‘g’ like the peanut butter. 😱
Table of Contents
Understanding the usage of soft ‘g’ words
“It’s the same as the word gift”
Avoiding Verbal Confusion
The Creator Has the Final Word
Links to Related Articles and Sources
Simply stated, the proper pronunciation of the acronym GIF is with a ‘soft g’ sound. As in, ”it is a gigantic waste of your time to try and debate me on this, because I’ve worked out all the angles.”
The most common arguments for the ‘hard g’ pronunciation are listed below. But first, some practice in remembering just how the English language works when it comes to the letter g.
Two types of ‘g words’
There’s the ‘hard g’ and the ‘soft g’
Notice a pattern? No? It’s hard, but it’s there…
Two types of vowels
The vowel determines which type of g sound is used.
Non-front Vowels (A, O, U)
When placed before a Non-front Vowel, the ‘g’ is pronounced as a ‘hard g’ as in game, goal, and gun.
Are there exceptions to this rule? Of course! But not many…
How many exceptions are there to the soft g rule?
Not nearly as many as you probably hope.
English Words vs. G Words
There are over 1,000,000 words in the English language. A little more than 24,000 of them start with the letter g.
Soft G Rule Exceptions
Of the 24,000 g words only about 61 of them are an exception to the ‘soft g’ rule.
So, yes… the rules of the English language seem to support a soft g GIF pronunciation. Moving on…
“It’s Graphics Interchange Format…” Is not a good argument.
Often the first objection people have to pronouncing GIF with a soft g is that the acronym stands for Graphic Interchange Format. And because Graphic is pronounced with a hard ‘g’ then so should the acronym using it.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
If you used the words that make up the acronym it would be pronounced ‘neh-sa’ as opposed to the common pronunciation, ‘na-suh’.
If you used the words that make up the acronym it would be pronounced ‘ih-max’ rather than the commonly accepted pronunciation, ‘eye-max’.
Joint Photographic Experts Group
If you used the words that make up the acronym it would be pronounced ‘jeg’ or ‘jfeg’ (because the ‘p’ in Photographic is silent) as opposed to the common pronunciation, ‘jay-peg’.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
If you used the words that make up the acronym it would be pronounced ‘nat-o’ as opposed to the common pronunciation of ‘nay-toh’.
Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus
If you used the words that make up the acronym it would be pronounced ‘skuh-ba’ as opposed to common pronunciation, ‘skoo-buh’.
Special Weapons And Tactics
If you used the words that make up the acronym it would be pronounced ‘swat’ (rhymes with cat) as opposed to common pronunciation ‘swawt’ (rhymes with not).
Drug Abuse Resistance Education
If you used the words that make up the acronym it would be pronounced ‘duhre’ as opposed to common pronunciation ‘dair’ (rhymes with care).
Subscriber Identification Module
If you used the words that make up the acronym it would be pronounced ‘sime’ (rhymes with time) rather than common pronunciation ‘sym’ (rhymes with Tim).
Make America Great Again
If you used the words that make up the acronym it would be pronounced ‘muh-guh’ rather than common pronunciation ‘ma-guh’ (rhymes with ‘tag a’).
Surely nobody reading this would pronounce any of those acronyms according to how the words that make them up are pronounced. So let go of that argument. Time to move on.
“It’s just like the word gift,” is not a good argument.
Some people believe that because it looks like the word “gift” that it should be pronounced just like it. However, that rule doesn’t apply to other words where a letter is removed…
Think about Thought Though
The words thought and though are spelled exactly the same. Just remove the ‘t’ from thought and you have though.
Nobody will disagree that the pronunciation of the vowel part of the word changes from a ‘aw’ sound (‘thawt’) to an ‘o’ sound (‘tho’).
“But the g in GIF is a consonant, and consonants don’t change their sound.”—@HardGforLife
For those not trained in phonetics, you may not notice there is a change of consonant sound when going from thought to though.
“I sent you a gift, did you get it?”
Verbal communication can be hard when you’re using words that sound exactly alike.
Say this phrase out loud (with a hard ‘g’ sound):
“Did you get my gif?”
It’s easy for someone to think you said “gift” and misinterpret what you’re asking. But if you were to say it with a soft g there would be no question what you’re talking about.
For the Lip-Readers and Hearing Impaired
For those with hearing impairments and rely on reading lips for communication, pronouncing gif with a hard g will undoubtedly be misinterpreted.
Our mouths move the same way with the word “gift” since the final ‘t’ sound in the word is made with our tongue behind our teeth. So the former argument made is an inescapable reality when it comes to lip-reading.
My hypothetical daughter
Let’s pretend I had a daughter and named her Selah. When people first see her name they may pronounce it ‘sell-ah’. That would be incorrect. I would kindly correct them saying that it’s pronounced ‘say-lah’ and that would be the end of it.
They don’t argue with me on the pronunciation. And if they do, I just write them off as a self-absorbed, crazy, narcissistic weirdo.