Proper Pronunciation for Common Tech 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

SQL - 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.

About The Author:
Matt Zentz

Matt Zentz is the founder and CEO of Marketpath and has been building websites and custom applications since 1995. He is responsible for the overal planning, execution and strategic vision of Marketpath. He still dabbles in development but spends most of his time promoting Marketpath CMS and coordinating resources to accomplish Marketpath's long term goals.

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