Spending a lot of time with technology often means reading terms before hearing them pronounced aloud. The first time you read a word will stick in your head, but it’s not always correct. You’re probably saying some terms wrong.
It’s a phenomenon similar to the Mandela Effect. You’ve subconsciously convinced yourself that something is true, and you may never even consider the possibility that you’re wrong. That is, until the first time you hear someone say it. We’ll spare you the embarrassment.
In the Linux world, there are two terms that get used a lot—“GNOME” and “GNU.” GNOME is one of a few desktop environments Linux users can choose, it is part of the GNU Project, which is an operating system.
Anyway, many words that start with “gn” are pronounced with a silent “g.” Like “gnats,” “gnarly,” and, well, “gnomes,” the garden ornaments. However, GNOME and GNU don’t follow those same rules.
GNOME is an acronym for “GNU Network Object Model Environment,” and since GNU is pronounced with a hard g, and it is the first word in the GNOME acronym, GNOME is also pronounced with a hard g.
- Common Mispronunciation: Nome/New
- Correct Pronunciation: Guh-nome/Guh-new
RELATED: What’s New in GNOME 42, Available Now
Huawei is one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world, though its presence in the United States has been greatly diminished. Despite that popularity, “Huawei” is a very commonly mispronounced brand name.
The Chinese company went out on the streets of New York City to hear how people said its name. As expected, people almost always started it with an “H” sound. It actually starts with a “W” sound and is only two syllables.
- Common Mispronunciation: Who-ah-way
- Correct Pronunciation: Wah-way
Let’s head back to the Linux world. “sudo” is a program for Linux/Unix operating systems that allows users to run commands with elevated permissions. It’s similar to running a program in Windows as an administrator.
It is very commonly pronounced “sue-doe.” In fact, before researching this piece I never even considered there could be a different pronunciation. There is another pronunciation, though, and it’s used by the guy who invented it.
“sudo” is short form for “superuser do.” So, if we combine the way those two words are pronounced, it would make sense that “sudo” is pronounced “sue-doo.”
- Common Mispronunciation: Sue-doe
- Correct Pronunciation: Sue-doo
RELATED: How to Control sudo Access on Linux
Mac OS X
This is one mispronunciation that I think a lot of people know about but just refuse to correct themselves. The “X” in Mac OS X is not actually the letter x, it is the roman numeral for 10. Mac OS X was the tenth release of the Mac operating system.
Therefore, it is pronounced “Ten,” not “Ex.” Will this change how you say it? Probably not.
- Common Mispronunciation: Mack Oh-Ess Ex
- Correct Pronunciation: Mack Oh-Ess Ten
RELATED: 20 Years Later: How the Mac OS X Public Beta Saved the Mac
This is a GIF. Seinfeld
Alright, let’s get controversial. “GIF” is a file format for animated images. There are two ways that people pronounce this term, and the way you choose can create a lot of drama.
Steve Wilhite, the creator of the GIF format, was on record as saying it’s pronounced “jif.” He once said “choosy developers choose JIF,” a play on the peanut butter slogan. That’s a compelling argument, but language often doesn’t follow the rules we try to apply to it.
Proponents of the hard g pronunciation point to what GIF stands for: “Graphics Interchange Format.” The word “graphics” is pronounced with a hard g, so GIF should be pronounced with a hard g. The problem with that is there are plenty of acronyms that don’t follow this rule.
I think it can be boiled down to one simple factor. In this section, I’ve been spelling it with a “j” to show how it’s said with a soft g. I don’t have to change the spelling to show you how to pronounce it with a hard g.
- Common Mispronunciation: Jif
- Correct Pronunciation: Gif
RELATED: What Is a GIF, and How Do You Use Them?
How many of these terms were you saying wrong? Don’t worry about it—it happens to the best of us. Some terms will never have a fully agreed-upon pronunciation, and new terms will pop up that we all say wrong. Thus is life as a tech enthusiast.