GIF creator Steve Wilhite: It's pronounced 'JIF'

It turns out choosy graphics creators also choose "JIF."

During this week's annual Webby Awards ceremony, GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) creator Steve Wilhite put to rest the question of the animated images' correct pronunciation.

The simple answer: It's a soft "G."

Wilhite accepted a lifetime achievement award at the Webby's, which require winners to limit their acceptance speeches to five words.

"Instead of speaking his five words tonight, Steve is using his own invention to accept his award," Tumblr founder David Karp said in introducing him (video above).

To the tune of Richard Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (a.k.a. the famed 2001: A Space Odyssey notes), five words slowly appeared on the screen above Wilhite: "It's pronounced 'JIF' not 'GIF.'" The audience laughed and cheered as Wilhite quietly walked away.

The debate has been raging for years, like a Bugs Bunny-vs-Donald Duck tussle — most PC users pronounce the soft letter, while Mac owners seem to prefer the harder G. Even the White House decreed that GIF gets a "hard G."

As Gizmodo pointed out, the English language calls for the hard G sound when an I, E, or Y follow the letter. But should the acronym, which begins with the hard-G word "Graphics," be an exception? Not according to Wilhite.

"The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations," Wilhite told the New York Times this week. "They are wrong. It's a soft 'G,' pronounced 'jif.' End of story."

Wilhite created the Graphics Interchange Format in 1987, providing a bitmapped graphics file that has recently made its Internet resurgence among meme-loving bloggers.