Instigator / Pro
14
1541
rating
30
debates
58.33%
won
Topic

GIF should be pronounced GIF, not JIF.

Status
Voting

Participant that receives the most points from the voters is declared a winner.

The voting will end in:

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Category
Miscellaneous
Time for argument
Three days
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Open voting
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One month
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Four points
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10,000
Required rating
1501
Contender / Con
11
1846
rating
465
debates
69.35%
won
Description
~ 179 / 5,000

GIF: short for Graphics Interchange Format, a file format released in 1987 by Steve Wilhite.
should: modal verb (DUTY);
used to say or ask what is the correct or best thing to do:

Round 1
Pro
To be absolutely clear, Pro (me) is arguing for the hard g sound at the beginning of GIF, whereas Con is arguing for the soft g sound. These are denoted as "g" and "ʤ" respectively by the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) but for simplicity's sake I will be using "j" for the latter as it is always (as far as I can find) a "ʤ" sound in the English language. [1]

Arguments

1. Consistency With Acronym's Components

In the acronym, the "G" stands for "Graphics" which uses the "g" sound. [2]
By default, it would make more sense for the "G" in the acronym to reflect this than to arbitrarily change it to the "j" sound. Someone unfamiliar with the word "graphics" might assume if they heard GIF with a "j" sound that it was similarly pronounced "jraphics" or "ʤɹæfɪks" in IPA notation.

2. Historical Use Of The Letter "G"

What we call the letter "G" today was introduced as a variant of "C" which made both the "g" and "k" noises in Latin at the time. Since then, it has confusingly been used as both the "g" and "j" sound, until J was adopted into use in the 1600s.

3. Distinction From The Brand Jif

Jif is a popular brand of peanut butter that is pronounced with the soft g noise "j" which is universal to the letter J in English. It was introduced in 1956 and predates the word GIF by 31 years. While there exist several homonyms in the English language (most notably two, to, and too), to avoid confusion, it is reasonable to substitute a different pronunciation when possible. For instance the present and future tense of "read" are different in pronunciation (homophones with reed and red, respectively) in order to more easily identify the tense. (One could go into how the past tense should be standardized as readed, but I'm not here to fight the entire English language today)


In Conclusion
It is straightforwardly clear to me that the most logical and least confusing pronunciation would be the hard g "g" sound.


Sources:

Con
BoP disagreement

Con is arguing for the soft g sound. 
- Pro, Round(R) 1
This is false, Con has another angle; that they are both equally valid and will be pushing both at once.

Neither the short nor long description of this debate restrict Con to back 'J' pronounciation as more valid to GIF rather than equally valid.

==

Consistency With Acronym's Components
- Pro, R1

I counter this with consistency with letter annunciation consistency.

Pro's consistency-value is referring only to what you do if you extend out the acronym into its components and that is less relevant than what the raw letters in their capital forms are supposed to be pronounced as, individually.

You do not split PC into 'puh'and 'kuh' but into 'pee and 'see' because the raw pronounciation of Polict Constable, Personal Computer and Political Correctness is irrelevant when compared with the 'see' sound of C when saying 'that's so PC'.

In 'WTH' and 'WTF' we would never say the W or F as they are pronounced in their words, instead we'd default to the pronunciation when pronouncing the letter itself:
'double-you', 'tee', 'aitch/aytch', 'eff'.

Why would it be that when we say GIF that we default away from 'jee'-'eye'-'eff' and instead say the G the way that it is said in its word of 'graphics'? That is simply Pro implying there is a rule we go by which we blatantly do not.

Neither a hard G nor a softer J-sounding g are going to be the 'jee' of the norm in GIF, however 'J' pronunciatiation is closest to 'jee' without a doubt and that's how we say letter G.

==

Historical Use Of The Letter "G"

What we call the letter "G" today was introduced as a variant of "C" which made both the "g" and "k" noises in Latin at the time. Since then, it has confusingly been used as both the "g" and "j" sound, until J was adopted into use in the 1600s.

As we know the letter C evolved to have 'see' and thus 'sss' variation, it is not a pure 'kk' sound anymore. Language evolves, Pro telling us this is not relevant as the acronym of GIF only evolved in 1987:


I think perhaps more interesting than the history of the letter G would be the shorter and more relevant history of the acronym GIF.

The creator of GIF always has, initially jokingly as he didn't seem to mind and later seriously, pushed forth the pronunciation JIF (evidence inside the link I gave above and also in many other places such as here: 

It's pronounced JIF, not GIF.
- Steve Wilhite, the creator of GIF

You can find the history swaying this way and that way but the creator at the start had this joking line:

Steve Wilhite releases the Graphics Interchange Format, or GIF, while working for Compuserve. He called it a GIF with a soft g. “Choosy developers,“ he reportedly said, “choose JIF.” This was of course a play on the peanut butter brand Jif’s line “choosy mothers choose Jif.”

Which leads me into countering Pro's Point 3.

==
Distinction From The Brand Jif

This is irrelevant. The creator of GIF isn't generating an income either way people pronounce GIF. This means that the peanut butter company could never sue him and that anyone is entitled to say it how they like. If anything, saying it as JIF (soft g) would increase people's awareness of the peanut butter company wherever it's sold, being a nice jolt of memory for them.

I do, however, know a word that is not only confusing because it sounds similar but because it is put in sentences extremely similarly to GIF; that word is 'gift'.

Where Pro's point-3 falls apart completely is that Pro has said this is the basis of it:
While there exist several homonyms in the English language (most notably two, to, and too), to avoid confusion, it is reasonable to substitute a different pronunciation when possible.
I wish to turn this completely against Pro and support the basis of Pro's point 3 because the word 'gift' is not only sounding similar to GIF with hard G but is actually very problematic semantically.

'I sent your girlfriend a GIF yesterday' and 'I sent your girlfriend a gift yesterday' would be said nearly identically if spoken at normal or definitely fast talking speed in almost all accents that apply to the English language because the 't' in gift is said softly and rapidly in the first place.

That doesn't seem too bad necessarily though it could start rivalries but imagine it the other way around. 'hey boyfriend, your friend sent me a hilarious GIF :D' vs 'hey boyfriend, your friend sent me this hilarious gift :D'

The point is that a GIF generally lacks intimacy unless it's a porn or explicit-captioned GIF. Sending a gift to someone has a layer of either intimacy or even borderline bribery to it depending on context. We need to realise that being 'sent a GIF' and 'sent a gift' are always going to be said in sentences in the same way whereas referring to peanut butter is usually firstly not done by brand.

People will go 'that's peanut butter, oh you want to know the brand? It's Jif' they won't go 'that's some Jif. Oh, don't you know? That's peanut butter'. Lexically, there's much more conflict having GIF sounding near-identical to gift because of how similarly they are used in sentences.

==

I would like a point of my own; they are equally valid if we get technical

It is true that many dictionaries have hard G 'gif' as the default. This is because most people have ended up saying it with hard G but they are wrong. The reason they are wrong is firstly the confusion with 'gift' and because both the letter G being said as 'jee' and the creator of GIFs having always intended it to be said the same as Jif make it officially soft-g oriented.

Many dictionaries will always concede a secondary pronunciation by at least listing it:

US 
 /ɡɪf/ /dʒɪf/ 

^ have to go to the second definition section to find it conceding/admitting 'djif' works.

 
/ɡɪf/, /dʒɪf/

For Pro to win, GIF has to completely win as the correct one. I have countered every angle which Pro pushed and am the only side able to pick the middleground 'they both work' option.
Round 2
Pro
Con has another angle; that they are both equally valid and will be pushing both at once.

Neither the short nor long description of this debate restrict Con to back 'J' pronounciation as more valid to GIF rather than equally valid.
That's a fair claim, though I was hoping to debate someone who actively supports JIF more than GIF.


Rebuttals

consistency with letter annunciation consistency.
The examples used here, "PC" and "WTF" are not acronyms like GIF is, but initialisms. While an acronym is pronounced as a word, (NASA, SCOTUS, etc) an intialism is read as each letter in sequence (FBI, BRB, etc.)  Clearly different rules do apply to acronyms.


Steve Wilhite

The creator of the GIF does indeed prefer the pronunciation JIF, but does an author's intent matter more than popular usage? It's easy to say no. As you said regarding the letter C, pronunciation evolves over time. We may not know who first started using C for the "k" sound, but his intent and preference didn't stop us from changing the pronunciation to also cover the "s" sound. If GIF is the more popular usage, then the author's intent is meaningless.

Distinction From The Brand Jif

the peanut butter company could never sue him
I wasn't arguing a case for legal distinction, but to avoid confusion. While normal conversation may allow for context to differentiate the two, other mediums, such as speech to text software, have no ability to tell them apart, seeing as they're pronounced exactly the same "jif"

gift' is not only sounding similar to GIF
Although this is anecdotal, I have never had trouble differentiating the two. If one was slurring their speech then enunciation could be a problem here, but again, this would only happen in a spoken conversation, where clarification could easily be reached. In text, I expect the confusion to drop, as completely tacking on or forgetting a letter is pretty hard to do.


they are equally valid if we get technical
"most people have ended up saying it with hard G but they are wrong."
This directly contradicts your earlier argument that the pronunciation of letters can evolve over time from the original usage. Popular use is the final arbiter of what is "correct." The entire dictionary is founded on this principle. "Awesome" and "Awful" used to have almost identical meaning, but they have undergone semantic drift, and now have very different meanings from each other.

R2 Arguments

Popular use

In 2019 Cambridge University released an article about the controversy on the pronunciation of GIF. In it they cite a poll finding that 57% of people use the hard G, while only 31% use the soft G "j". Nearly twice as many people use the hard G. They also mention how anomalous such a large split is, when it comes to language. There is a concept called linguistic prescriptivism that refers to how, excepting for regional differences (such as British vs American English), a single "correct" usage for a word will develop. This usage can be influenced by anything from public speakers to dictionaries, but is ultimately decided by the population using the term. The most likely reason given for such a large split is that Wilhite's public arguments for JIF has "given an impetus" to a second argument. The article also mentions that before Wilhite's speech at the 2013 Emmy's Awards, there was little recorded controversy over the term.

Steve Wilhite

 Even if you lend a certain credence to the creator's preference, Wilhite died earlier this year. As the figurehead for the JIF movement fades into obscurity, linguistic drift will make the more popular pronunciation even more pronounced, no pun intended.



For Pro to win, GIF has to completely win as the correct one.
GIF is already the more popular usage. While I predict this will solidify to supremacy within the next few decades, if not years, there will likely always be a few obstinate people that cling to JIF. So how does one judge "correctness"? In the description I defined "should"

should: modal verb (DUTY);
used to say or ask what is the correct or best thing to do:
The best thing to do is to reduce confusion and argument in favor of the more readily accepted pronunciation: GIF with a hard G.
Con
The abusive twisting of 'should' that voters should side with Con against Pro on.

Please play this rap song before and/or after reading: https://youtu.be/6MoejnwYYsk

Let me be very clear here. There are dirty tactics and then there are shit-smearing-all-over-your-soul tactics.

K_Michael I want you to drop the sword immediately. Give up, drop this, say sorry and save some face. You just conceded EVERY contention you raised Round 1 and built your case upon and used goalpost movement in every single respect to seem you won anyway.

I will beat your Round 2 arguments to the floor, I will kick them and crack their spinal cords worse than I did to your Round 1 and expect a formal admittance of your ruthlessness to require mine.

This debate was never ever in any way to be able to be won as an absolute de facto truism that the more popular option is the one that should be used.

The definition in the description does not even seem abusive and K_Michael has no known history of being this sleazy. I spent the full 3 days thinking of this Round, shocked and appalled at what I saw.

There was a time when severely most believed the world was flat and now severely most believe it is Round. There was a time when most would hate and/or pity homosexuals and now many cultures are shifting to at the very least hate them less and at most totally integrating and embracing them. K_Michael would know.

There were times when linguistic slurs we would be furious if we hear now were the go-to terms for blacks, gays, transgenders and many others.

Pro wants to sit there and win this because confusion seems reduced when all sheep the bandwagon. Do not for one second allow that.

If most support the incorrect and suboptimal option, most SHOULD BE CORRECTED!

==

Rest of the case... What rest of it? He got bodied Round 1 and in a jiffy I shall rest my cass.

Pro's first contention was that Acronyms owe pronunciation to be loyal and consistent to extended word articulation.

So I bring WTF and PC and he says no, pick NASA and stuff like PIN and SCUBA.

Okay. Let us do that. :) 

The A's in NASA are both pronounced unlike the A in the extended words.

The I in PIN is for identity, yet is said as the 'i' in GIF... oops.

The U and A in SCUBA are said unlike their words.

These are vowels, Pro will try to grasp at and goalpost-move. 

So let us nit even generalise, let us see something, is GIF a consonant exception, yes or no and why? Well, here comes the entirely conceded gift point where gift vs GIF with hard G is a much greater struggle to take in the ear and placement in a sentence, causing it to be semantically too not just audibly and lexically.

Any website that is official and teaches acronyms specifies that GIF is such a definite exception with it said 'JIF-' or it concedes both are viable. GIPHY embracing THE HARD g is irrelevant, and Pro didnt even bring it up. 'Giphy' was blatantly based on the word jiffy, as in  ring gifs to you in a jiffy... so what are they fronting for?
GI

In Round 1 I already showed Time magazine (highly refgrded not some simple simon typeagazine) and CNN officially reporting that the creator i tended it to be said Jif.

Pro says 'so what'. I tell you so what.

I agree Pro, let us reduce confusion. The offficial way it was always intended to be said so as to differentiate itfrom a gift when it is a GIF was... soft g Jif.

And the confused majority need guidance from us. Do not let them embrace their delusion. Both are valid but which should be the valid one? The one the original creator and practicality of gift vs GIF demand.
Round 3
Pro
There was a time when severely most believed the world was flat and now severely most believe it is Round. There was a time when most would hate and/or pity homosexuals and now many cultures are shifting to at the very least hate them less and at most totally integrating and embracing them. K_Michael would know.

There were times when linguistic slurs we would be furious if we hear now were the go-to terms for blacks, gays, transgenders and many others.

Pro wants to sit there and win this because confusion seems reduced when all sheep the bandwagon. Do not for one second allow that.

There is a huge difference between how morals, science, and politics are determined and how language is. The definition, usage, and pronunciation of a word are inherently subject to popular usage (again, see semantic drift). In contrast, science is explicitly based upon empirical observations, and morality is based upon philosophical reasoning.

There is no shortage of examples as to how popular usage is the final arbiter of correctness in language. I have given a few examples already, such as the recent split between "awesome" and "awful." Another example is how slang can supersede or add to the traditional definition of a word, such as "cool", "salty", or "dope." This is also how new words are entered into the dictionary, based upon increasing popularity.

Pro's first contention was that Acronyms owe pronunciation to be loyal and consistent to extended word articulation.

So I bring WTF and PC and he says no, pick NASA and stuff like PIN and SCUBA.
I merely made a distinction between initialisms and acronyms, which do inherently have different pronunciation rules. Your new acronym examples, PIN and SCUBA, are indeed inconsistent to the initial letter sound of each component word. However, you will also commonly see such words enter usage as its own word separate from the acronym (scuba, laser, and radar all have entries in the dictionary separate from the original acronyms). Some consider GIF to enter this field as well.


The A's in NASA are both pronounced unlike the A in the extended words.

The I in PIN is for identity, yet is said as the 'i' in GIF... oops.

The U and A in SCUBA are said unlike their words.

These are vowels, Pro will try to grasp at and goalpost-move. 
While I do not contend that these are inconsistent, it is notable that most inconsistencies are vowels.

Well, here comes the entirely conceded gift point where gift vs GIF with hard G is a much greater struggle to take in the ear and placement in a sentence, causing it to be semantically too not just audibly and lexically.
I addressed the point of "gift" vs. "GIF". Don't ignore my arguments.

GIPHY embracing THE HARD g is irrelevant, and Pro didnt even bring it up. 'Giphy' was blatantly based on the word jiffy, as in  ring gifs to you in a jiffy... so what are they fronting for?
It's a company name, they can pronounce it either way. And it's clearly not irrelevant, it's a reflection of the popularity of the hard g for GIF.
Giphy' was blatantly based on the word jiffy
Has a company founder announced this? If not, you are only postulating.

In Round 1 I already showed Time magazine (highly refgrded not some simple simon typeagazine) and CNN officially reporting that the creator i tended it to be said Jif.

Pro says 'so what'. I tell you so what.
I never disagreed that the creator intended the soft g. You have yet to show an argument that states why this one man's preference outweighs the clear popularity of the hard g.


The Nail in the Coffin

I agree Pro, let us reduce confusion. The offficial way it was always intended to be said so as to differentiate itfrom a gift when it is a GIF was... soft g Jif.
Now the hypocrisy is revealed. In R1 you stated
they are both equally valid and will be pushing both at once.
Con is unable to maintain a consistent stance on whether the usage of only the soft j or if both are acceptable. His original stance, that both are acceptable, would clearly be more confusing than if only one pronunciation was used. He has changed stances to try and make his position more sensible.
Con
In this debate, Pro has had all three Round 1 points completely turned against him.

Then, Pro decides that the more popular one is automatically the one we should use even though the popular one was the unjustified deviation and Jif was the original pronunciation that the creator and many official sources encouraged and used.

Pro said Jif peanut butter vs Jif justifies using hard 'g'Gif but I pointed out that the word 'gift' has far mire overlap and grounds for co fusion there considering how it is used in a sentence and how commonplace a word it is.

I feel Pro has tried to goalpost move the BoP of the debate to be that the one more use is via truism the one we should use. That is wrong and abusive, please vote accordingly.