Pronouncing GIF and the folly of looking for sense in an opaque language

The discussion of whether to pronounce picture file format GIF with a soft or a hard ‘g’ is one that, I’m surprised to find, just runs and runs.

For a lot of internet folk, this is an ISSUE and they are RILED about it.

But, the thing is, I’m looking at that sentence and wondering why no one’s arguing about how we pronounce ‘issue’ and ‘riled’. Where’s the internet campaign to pronounce issue as ‘iss-ooh’ and riled as ‘rih-lud’? After all, those pronunciations make as much sense as our pronunciation of GIF (whether you fall in the hard-g or soft-g camp).

The key word there, by the way, is sense. That’s the trouble: there’s no sense in the English language. And trying to impose sense on something fundamentally nonsensical is just a recipe for anger and frustration.

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