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Geeky Pronunciations

At the Ubuntu-Utah meeting yesterday, we had a fun argument about how to pronounce 'GIF'. I am in the 'jif' camp, only because when the letter g is followed by an a, o or u, it is pronounced hard. If it is followed by an e, i or y, it is soft. There are exceptions of the rule, of course, and there are other phonetic rules that interfere, like the r controlled vowels. However, this got me thinking about other pronunciations in the English vernacular. Here is how I say the following. The word on the left with the pronunciation on the right. The stress of the word is in capital letters, and separated by syllables.

  • GIF- Jiff
  • PNG- Ping
  • Ethereal- eh THEAR ee ul
  • Debian- DEH bee uhn
  • Ubuntu- oo BUN too
  • Gnome- NOHm
  • SuSE- ZOO zuh
  • SQL- ess que EHL
  • Linux- LIHN ucks
  • Daemon- DEE muhn
  • amaroK- AAM uh rock
  • Xfce- ECKS face

Did I miss any?

{ 11 } Comments

  1. Gabriel | July 10, 2006 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    I heard these pronounced more then one way:

  2. Matthew Kimber | July 10, 2006 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Wouldn't you say that the "G" rule you mention is less used than say when in the word "give"? Here are some more that would have the hard sound:

    - gill
    - girl
    - gird
    - gimmick
    - gig
    - gift
    - gilt
    - giddy
    - gizzard

    If you can tell I'm with the "normal" gif-pronouncing (g1f - from Webster's Concise English Dictionary pronunciation guide) crowd.

  3. Matthew Kimber | July 10, 2006 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Oh and about "Mono" from the first response/comment. Just think Spanish. Since it means monkey and the inventor is Mexican (see Miguel de Icaza) you would/should pronounce it as Spanish. Not like the sickness.

  4. Aaron | July 10, 2006 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    With "girl" and "gird", they are r-controlled words, which change the sound of the g from soft to hard. However, "giraffe" is pronounced soft, because the "r" is followed by another vowel, which makes it an r-controlled tickle word nullifying both the control of the "r" and the tickle.

    With "gill", "gizzard", "giddy" and "gimmick", the vowel is followed by a double-consanant. This makes the "g" hard. This same rule applies to the letter "c". However, with c, "a", "o" and "u" following, stress the hard rule, where "e", "i" and "y" stress the soft rule. Other rules, such as the r-controlled vowel or tickle words can nullify it.

    For the remaining words, "gig", "gift" and "gilt", I don't know of any rules at play that are creating the hard "g" (or my wife, who is teaching me all these rules, being the school teacher that she is). You have to remember that English is a melting pot of languages, which creates exceptions for every rule.


  5. jordy | July 10, 2006 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    How about "etc"? --> EHT SEE

  6. Stuart Jansen | July 10, 2006 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    GNOME - guhNOHm
    (although I support Elijah's push to modernized the caps to Gnome)
    SQL- ess que EHL/SEE kwuhl

  7. Kenneth Burgener | July 11, 2006 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I prefer pronounce:

    1. GIF as in "gift" minus the t.

    2. PNG as "P-N-G".

    3. Debian ...
    "Debian is pronounced /ˈΙ™n/. It comes from the names of the creator of Debian, Ian Murdock, and his wife, Debra."

  8. Lonnie Olson | July 11, 2006 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    You are wrong about Ubuntu, and Gnome.

  9. Christer | July 11, 2006 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I'm also sad to hear you've been mispronouncing Ubuntu (as does herlo!) Taken from their site:

    Ubuntu, an African word from Zulu and Xhosa, is pronounced "oo-BOON-too". See the other FAQ on its meaning, it's a worthwhile read, and no, you're not the first person to wonder. πŸ™‚

  10. Aaron | July 12, 2006 at 10:34 am | Permalink


    Tell me the difference between gnome and Gnome. One is an elf-like creature that spends most of it's life in gardens of old fat widows, and the other is a window manager for X. Now, if the spellings are the same, then why are they pronounced different? Because of the captial 'G'?

    Christer and Lonnie-

    I will correct the way I say Ubuntu. I stand corrected. Thanks. I actually have pronounced this a few different ways over the years.

  11. Meesh Thate | April 2, 2008 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    yea guys, totally agree with you. this is a great website for a geek like me πŸ™‚

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