GIF Creator Wins Webby Lifetime Achievement Award, Clarifies Pronunciation

If Louis Armstrong was still alive, he'd have another verse to add to "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," because as it turns out, some of us, and perhaps even most of us, have been pronouncing "GIF" wrong. Steve Wilhite, the inventor of the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), recently stated it should be pronounced with a soft G, and that's that.

"The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations. They are wrong. It is a soft 'G,' pronounced 'jif.' End of story," Wilhite told The New York Times in an interview.

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It annoys Wilhite that there's still a debate over the pronunciation since he's the one that created the file format, which has now earned him a Webby Lifetime Achievement award. Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the GIF, and it was also recognized as 2012's Word of the Year by Oxford American Dictionaries.

"The Webby Awards are proud to honor Steve Wilhite with a Lifetime Achievement Webby Award in recognition of inventing the GIF file format. The GIF has had an immeasurable impact on the way users interface with the web and how designers and developers present visual data and imagery," the Webby Awards said in a statement. "From its humble beginnings in the early days of the Netscape logo, the GIF has continually proven a dynamic format for Net artists and advertisers alike. Despite developments in moving image and animation technology on the Web, the GIF remains a staple among image formats used to spread news and information."

More than two decades later, GIF is still finding relevancy in Internet memes, on Tumblr, and elsewhere on the web. Interestingly enough, Wilhite says after all this time he's never made an animated GIF of his own, though his favorite is the "dancing baby" from 1996.