Yesterday, Lifehacker attended the Unified Communications Expo in London where assorted industry experts converge to discuss the future of collaborative business technology. As you’d expect, many of the presentations focused on new graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that aim to disrupt touch screens. During these speeches, we couldn’t help but notice an interesting anomaly — around half the presenters pronounced the aforementioned acronym “gee-yu-eye” while the other half plumped for “gooey”. Which do you prefer?
GUI picture from Shutterstock
Saying each letter individually tends to be the preferred pronunciation when it comes to acronyms, even when the letters can be formed into a meaningful word — nobody pronounces CIA as “si-ah” or “ki-ah”, for example.
There are exceptions to the rule, however. The acronym for ‘heads up display’ (HUD) is almost always pronounced as a word, as is NASA and CSIRO. Some acronyms have evolved into fully-fledged words, such as scuba (“self-contained underwater breathing apparatus”) and laser (“light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”).
GUI is a tricky one, however. It seems we haven’t reached a consensus on how to pronounce it yet. Personally, I prefer to say each letter individually — “gooey” just sounds icky and non-computational. With that said, many prefer the latter, including a brace of UCexpo professionals who deal with the concept on a daily basis.
On paper, “gooey” actually makes more sense — it’s quicker to say and thus easier to pop into conversation. On the other hand, the lack of clearly defined letters renders the acronym nearly impossible to decipher if you’re not already familiar with it.
A strong case could also be made for dispensing with acronyms altogether: they have the potential to confuse and alienate a portion of your audience for the sake of brevity. This is why we always spell it out in full the first time it appears in an article, even if it’s extremely common.
We want to hear what our readers think. Do you pronounce it “gee-yu-eye” or “gooey”? Or do you go the whole hog and give each word its proper due? Have at it in the poll below!