How Do You Pronounce GIF? It Probably Depends on Where You're From

iStock
iStock

It is a question that creates tension in friendships and divides families: How do you pronounce GIF?

The Graphics Interchange Format that makes fun looped image files possible also sparks heated debate in its shortened form. Is it a hard g like graphics or a soft g like gym? The Economist suggests that it’s a regional question.

Recently, the programming forum Stack Overflow posed the question to 50,000 people in 200 countries, and found that for the most part, the hard g wins out. While 65 percent of survey respondents went for the hard g, only 26 percent argued for the soft g.

But as the data team at The Economist points out, it’s a question that has built-in linguistic biases. If your native language doesn’t have a hard g sound, you probably use the soft g to pronounce GIF, and vice versa. Almost 80 percent of the poll respondents came from language backgrounds that would bias them toward the hard g sound, even though those languages make up just 45 percent of the world population. The Economist’s calculations found that weighted by population, Europe and the U.S. are biased toward the hard g pronunciation, but in emerging economies (defined by the World Bank), it’s not so clear cut.

Because there’s a third option that English-speaking nerds rarely duke it out over: the individual letter pronunciation, which appears to have made significant inroads in Asia. According to the poll, it’s more common in China and South Korea to enunciate each letter in GIF. Half of respondents from China opted for that choice, as did a full 70 percent of South Korean respondents. Explore the map visualization of the data here.

That said, GIF creator Steve Wilhite uses the soft g, like JIF. Do with that what you will.

[h/t The Economist]

Take Advantage of Amazon's Early Black Friday Deals on Tech, Kitchen Appliances, and More

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Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Even though Black Friday is still a few days away, Amazon is offering early deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

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Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

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Video games

Nintendo

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Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

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Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

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- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa(4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

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The Mental Floss Store's Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sale Is Live!

The Mental Floss Store
The Mental Floss Store

You've been asking about it for months, and today we can finally confirm that the Mental Floss Store is back up and running! Simply head here to find dozens of T-shirts with all sorts of unique designs to choose from, whether you’re in the market for a pi pun, a risqué grammar joke, or something only your fellow bookworms will appreciate. You can even use your new Mental Floss shirt to teach your friends all about scurvy. And right now, if you use the code BLACKFRIDAY at checkout, you'll get 25 percent off your order. This deal runs through 11:59 p.m. on November 30.

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Mental Floss Shop shirt.

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Head on over to the Mental Floss Store to see our entire collection. 

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