He said it in a way that implied he was the “decider” of this status: “The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations. They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.”
Something interesting happened after I posted the item, which got nearly 5,000 notes in its initial run—essentially, everyone who pronounced the word using the hard ‘G’ on Tumblr, a platform famous for GIFs, essentially revolted against this knowledge.
One sample comment read like this: “There’s also the fact that the acronym stands for ‘Graphics Interchange Format’ and it is illogical for it to have a soft G when the word it stands for has a hard G. Just because you create something doesn’t mean you get to rewrite the rules of the English language for your own acronym.”
As 2013 Tumblr goes this was basically a whole generation of people happily using this man’s creation turning on its creator because they referred to the tool in a way that he did not expect. (I’m pro ‘jif’, FWIW.)
And this comparison point came to mind yesterday when Steven Pemberton
, a researcher who took a significant role in the design of Cascading Style Sheets (along with HTML and XHTML) as the chair of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) HTML Working Group. Pemberton explained, via a single tweet, that the !important tag, a line of CSS that effectively overrides any other entries for a given style distinction on a website, was included essentially for no other reason but to match U.S. law: