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mr_bean (3802)

mr_bean
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Journal of mr_bean (3802)

Saturday May 28, 2005
12:30 AM

G in GNU: Silent or pronounced?

[ #24920 ]
Yesterday in Taiwan, Richard Stallman said it is pronounced, but I disagree. He talked about the etymology of the name. There had been a series of FINE, SINE programs, meaning this program Is Not Emacs. So he started working down the alphabet looking for Something Not Unix and found GNU.

There apparently had previously been pop culture plays on the pronunciation of gnu and seeing it's 20 years since the platform got going it is not 'new' anymore. That was basically his case.

My argument for not pronouncing the G is that we need to stop an infinite regress. Or is it Gs all the way down?

What does the G in GNU stand for? If it doesn't stand for anything, then silence is the appropriate pronunciation. If it stands for gnu, a gnu, or anything else, ie if the name really means A gnu (Entity X) is not Unix, the joke isn't so funny.
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  • It doesn’t stand for “a gnu,” it stands for “GNU.”

    we need to stop an infinite regress.

    Actually, that’s the whole point of the acronym: it’s recursive. If you think that’s unfunny (I think it’s mildly amusing the first time you encounter it), you’ll be completey repelled to learn about the meaning of GNU’s kernel’s name, “Hurd.”

    Hurd: Hird of Unix Replacing Dameons
    Hird: Hurd of Interfaces Representing Depth

    Yeah

    • If Stallman's predecessors had called their emacs
      derivatives, KNEE instead of FINE and SINE, for
      KNEE's Not Emacs Either, they would have had
      better and funnier names and Stallman's joke
      wouldn't have been so funny.

      Though a knee isn't as funny as a gnu.

      I don't get the joke in

      > Hurd: Hird of Unix Replacing Dameons
      > Hird: Hurd of Interfaces Representing Depth

      What's this Hird thing? It's not going to be
      funny without a reference to a hErd of gnus.

      And rather than choosing GNU, I wonder if it
      would hav
      • While it is an acronym the animal pronunciation is definately GUH-NEW.
      • What's this Hird thing? It's not going to be funny without a reference to a hErd of gnus.

        Actually, it's the lack of "hErd" in the definition that makes it so bloody funny :-)

        And rather than choosing GNU, I wonder if it would have been funnier if Stallman had chosen something with a silent letter that refered to the ideology of free software, like FREE ENTERPRISE, FREEFORALL, or something. Perhaps not. Perhaps it has to be an animal.

        If you think of a gnu in the wild, running free (or rather eating g

        • A camel is a horse designed by a committee,
          right? but a gnu is a cow built by Frankenstein.
          It's an ugly animal.
          A camel is strange enough to be interesting, but
          not strange enough to repel.

          The GNU logo doesn't have the visual appeal of
          O'Reilly's camel.
          Perhaps Stallman could have done something with
          BYRD. As in free as a bird, and /y/ is /i/ as a
          semi-vowel. Byrd is a word with no vowels.

          Perhaps, 'Byrds the Word' and 'The word is Be YeR
          own Developer' No. Perhaps something like GENIUS
          + SOUL = JAZZ
  • you're thinking about all of this *way* too hard.