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  • Rebecca Watson wrote a new post, Your Argument About How to Pronounce GIF is Wrong, on the site Skepchick 1 year, 2 months ago

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    Transcript:

    I am old, for the internet. For YouTube, especially. I was born in 1980, a mere 7 years before Steve Wilhite developed the Graphics […]

    • Ummm. If usage is infinitely self-justified; wouldn’t we be required to conform, rather than be obscurantist pedants? The kind who think that ‘tax’ and ‘ask’ don’t rhyme, or that nuclear isn’t pronounced nukular?

      If the first people to actually speak the word, the ones who learned it from its inventor, have one pronunciation, shouldn’t that carry more weight? But how many ever heard hims say it at all? All of this would be silly if the word had spread through speech rather than cyber-writing. I’m not at all sure that words that aren’t spread by speech might not be subject to a whole different set of variation.

    • No, no one is “required to conform” to language, that’s the point. “Tax” does rhyme with “ask” in some dialects, and here’s a fun thing: it was common pronunciation for it to be that way in Middle English, i.e. long before you were born and anyone taught you to pronounce it another way. Does someone speaking Middle English have the right to demand you pronounce it “axe?” Are they stupider than you? Or are you stupider than them for pronouncing it the “new” way?

    • I admit I have a tough time with “literally” since the two meanings are literally opposite. And it leaves us with an extra word for “figuratively” and no word that unambiguously means “literally” (older meaning). It’s like if turning the steering wheel in a car clockwise causes the car to turn right and turning it anti-clockwise causes older cars to turn left and newer ones to turn right – and these newer cars just can’t turn left!

      Gif, on the other hand? That’s very much a to-may-toe/to-mah-to thing. It doesn’t matter. I say gif (hard-g) because my first language is Danish where the soft-g sound doesn’t exist in any non-loan word. (And I suspect that’s why the hard-g pronunciation is most common world-wide – a lot of languages likely either don’t have the soft-g sound or don’t associate it with the letter g). 🙂