Proper Pronunciation for Common Tech Terms

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    Proper Pronunciation for Common Technical Terms

    My son has started a meme war with my wife and me. The goal is to top the previously sent meme with another that is either funnier or overly stupid and ridiculous. He's only 13 so we keep it PG. And then I said the word that spawned a weekend of in-depth, never ending discussion on right and wrong. I pronounced the word "GIF", as in animated gifs (of which many memes are comprised). Here's how that conversation went:

    Me: Oh, I'll top any animated gif you send. (pronounced "JIF")

    Ethan: Dad, you can't even say it right... it's gif (with a hard G)

    Me: No, it's a soft G, just ask the guy who invented the compressed image format.

    Ethan: It stands for Graphics Interchange Format. Graphics has a hard G sound. Mom, tell dad he's wrong.

    Mom/Wife: Your dad can't pronounce anything right. It's a hard G.

    Me: You're both wrong. With that reasoning, SCUBA would be pronounced as SK-UH-Bæ. (that's a phonetic symbol for the A sound in "cat" or "that")

    Ethan: What? You're out of your mind. How do you make that connection?

    Me: Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. With your logic, the U would be short - UNderwater - and the A would be short - AAAAParatus. So you get SC-UH-Bæ.

    This conversation continued all weekend with my son trying to find new reasons for pronouncing it with a hard G. The inventor chose to pronounce it with a soft G intentionally. There's even an entire website dedicate on how to really pronounce gif

    Basically, you can pronounce it with a hard G but people who know the history will pronounce with a soft G.

    Other Words Commonly Mispronounced

    Proper Pronunciation for Common Technical TermsSQL - sequel (see-kw-uhl)  or ess-kew-el (S-Q-L)
    The original language was called Structured English Query Language, which is why early programmers called it Sequel This likely depends on how you were taught. Other implementations named it Structured Query Language and adopted the S-Q-L pronunciation. I was taught to pronounce it as "sequel" because I was taught by a bunch of old guys who learned the original. So, either way is ok, I guess, but sequel is only two syllables. I'll still make fun of you if you waste your energy on a 3rd syllable. Pronouncing SQL: Sequel or S-Q-L?

    JSON - jason
    Doug Crockford, the inventor of JSON, pronounces it jason. I started calling it JAY-SAHN and still have to correct myself. Apparently, Mr. Crockford really doesn't care how it's pronounced. But please don't call it J-S-O-N.

    SCSS - ess-see-ess-ess
    SCSS is a nested style sheet format for websites that some have referred to as SASS. But the SASS format is syntactically different than it's SCSS counterpart. SCSS is technically Sass 3 which is why many still pronounce it as SASS but if you want people to understand exactly what you're referring to then call it ess-see-ess-ess.

    CACHE - cash
    It's not cash-ay or catch-ee. Cache is the local memory used to store data so it can be accessed quickly. Or it can be a verb as in "Your browser cached the results"

    API - ay-pee-eye
    API is the acronym for Application Programming Interface. It's used to allow separate applications to connect and talk with each other. 

    WYSIWYG - wiz-ee-wig
    WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get. It's a rich text editor for web, desktop, and mobile devices. 

    GUID - gwid
    Stands for Globally Unique Identifier. You can pronounce it as GOO-ID and people will likely understand you but don't be surprised when you're given a few condescending looks. One syllable is always easier than two. And if you pronounce it with four syllables, G-U-I-D, then shame on you.

    C# - see-sharp
    This is one Microsoft's proprietary programming languages.

    Meme - meem
    You've all seen them in your email, on facebook, and via twitter. Memes are the often humorous images or videos that get passed around.


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    About the Author

    Matt Zentz

    Matt Zentz launched Marketpath from a small Broad Ripple bungalow in February 2001 with a focus on custom web application development. He built the first, basic version of a hosted CMS called Webtools and shortly afterward expanded his team and created the first version of Marketpath CMS.

    Matt has worked for a national consulting firm, taught computer programming to high school juniors and seniors , and led the information technology arm of the auxiliary business units at Indiana University.

    Matt graduated from Indiana University in 1999 with a B.S. in Computer Science and has built custom web applications since 1995. Matt is husband to an amazing & supportive wife, has three beautiful children, supreme master to Archimedes (Archie) the dog, and mostly tolerant victim of 2 flying rats (cockateils).

    He coaches various kid sports, enjoys furniture and home renovation projects, and plays guitar and piano. Matt is also active with his church as a parishioner, technical advisor and board member on the festival committee.

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