Words-worth: Nintendo Wii

'Wii' is a trademark rather than a word, but intriguing nonetheless. Many thought Japanese games company Nintendo had gone mad when it called its new games console 'Wii' (pronounced 'wee'). Yet a great deal of Japanese thinking went into inventing the word, and some of it even makes sense...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

This family-orientated games machine is aimed at 'we' rather than 'I'; the 'we' sound is available in most languages; and, at one syllable, the name is short enough to make abbreviations unnecessary. Nintendo insists that the odd spelling resembles the machine's stick-like controllers and symbolises people getting together to play. 'Wii will change everything,' the firm declared at its launch. But puns are risky when, in English-speaking countries, 'Wii' also sounds like the nursery word for urine. Perhaps the company thought a hint of playground naughtiness would add to the machine's child-appeal - something it already has in abundance.

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