by: Rebecca Scudder
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 4/17/2012
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Wii, the name of Nintendo’s family friendly game system, is pronounced like wē in English. Does it have a meaning – or is it a brand name syllable that signifies only itself? We look into the history of Nintendo’s Wii.
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Where did Wii come from?
The Wii was released, with a lot of fanfare, in 2006. Its unusual features, family friendliness and sturdy construction created a lot of interest among consumers, and it remains one of the most popular game systems today. Since its release, other console companies have begun developing similar systems, although none are yet available. Sony and Microsoft are expected to release motion controllers also responding to the user’s movements.
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The working product name for the Wii was Revolution, an apt name considering the sweeping changes the Wii brought to home gaming consoles. At the Urban Dictionary, vocal complainers mourned the loss of the name when the change was announced; the complaints began with some people writing that they would not use the game console because they were embarrassed by the name and the jokes that had started. While hardcore gamers want the revolutionary console to stick to the working name Revolution, Hardcore gamers were not the foremost audience for Nintendo’s Wii. Nintendo wanted to get families interested in the console, with games targeted at an audience who would put fun and excitement in game play above state of the art graphics and high speed memory intensive game features.
Why change the name? Nintendo has given a number of different reasons. Perhaps first, although that is not the place they give it, they thought that Revolution might be difficult to pronounce in some languages, as well as likely to be abbreviated in different forms. Wii is not able to be shortened, although it spawned jokes that Nintendo might not have expected. It is certainly easy to pronounce and remember, and use has given it an emphasis that tells people that the Wii is the game console, not any other word with similar spelling and another meaning.
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Wii in Japanese
If you enter Wii into Google translator, and translate it in to Japanese, it reads Wiiと.
If you copy that into the traslator line, and ask for it to be traslated into English, it then reads And Wii.
Unsurprisingly, と (To) translates into English as And.
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Meanings within meanings
The reason Nintendo has emphasized the most is the correspondence between the given pronunciation of Wii, wē, to the English word we. The Wii logo is supposed to symbolize two people standing side by side, gathering together, and also resemble the Wii remote and Wii nunchuck. It is a distinctive name that people can remember, with the further benefit of the association of the meaning of we; people associating with each other.
It is not the hiragana character ゐ for the syllable wi; the Japanese for the console is ウィ, the pronunciation of wē into Japanese.
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And this means....
Google translator gives ウィ the meaning Wii. In Japanese, as in English and other languages, the meaning of Wii is still Nintendo's idea of we, and the translator is merely giving the phonetic information in the language familiar to the reader.
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The Wiitionary is a site devoted to finding the Wii in the world. Check the Wiitionary to see some only partly tongue in cheek definitions that express the Wii in everything.
Enjoy your play on the Wii, a fun for the entire family console. And remember, don't let that remote go flying...