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

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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]

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You Can Now Buy Your Own Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak 

Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001).
Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001).
Warner Bros.

Harry Potter fans, prepare to go nuts. Toy group Wow! Stuff has officially come out with an invisibility cloak and pre-orders begin on July 1.

According to CNET, the cloak works like a green screen and uses an app to show the wearer disappearing in photos and videos. The user can then save the photos and videos to their phone and show everyone their vanishing skills. The toy company felt compelled to warn users that they won't actually disappear, which is hilarious but worth clarifying in case someone thought they now had access to invisibility cloaks and real magic.

The creators actually examined the original cloak used on Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, now housed at Leavesden Studio, to make sure it was as close to the real one as possible.

The cloak, which is not transparent to the wearer, comes in two different versions: The standard cloak costs $70 and includes a stand to situate one’s phone for pictures. The deluxe version, which costs $80, has a serpent-themed border and a tabletop tripod so you can really go wild with photos.

The cloaks are set for an August 1 release, and have already made an impression on toy lovers, winning Innovative Toy of the Year at Sweden’s Toy Awards.

[h/t CNET]

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