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What does うぃーす exactly mean? (I vaguely hear it when people greet each other.) How is it different from other greetings?

Is it correct to write it as うぃす too?

How to properly type it on a Macbook? The い is a smaller font, and I don't know how to type ー.

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(The typing part of the question is off-topic, but we can answer it in comments.) You can type small kana by typing x first, so xi becomes . To type the long vowel marker , just type a dash -. –  snailboat Jul 28 at 18:10
    
You can do the same thing as x with l too, if you like that better. –  Sjiveru Jul 28 at 18:46
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@Sjiveru Except they said they were on a Macbook. l works on Windows, but not on OS X, where li turns into . Happily, x works everywhere, so I usually recommend that instead :-) –  snailboat Jul 28 at 19:50
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whi yields うぃ. Also worth pointing out: who, thi, dhi, thu, dhu, twu, dwu... –  Zhen Lin Jul 28 at 19:55
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@Sjiveru wi works on OS X, too! (You have to type wyi to get ゐ.) –  snailboat Jul 28 at 20:32

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

"うぃーす" is a ultra-shortened greetings of, maybe おはようございます or something. "おっす" is one of the variations. Although the etymology is not clear, these are used in several ways.

  1. A sluggish, slow "うぃーっす" is a greeting used between young, mainly male, close friends. I think this is what @Sjiveru described, as something like "yo". People use this when they feel pronouncing "おはよう(ございます)" is too long and bothering.

  2. A short, vigorous, strong "うぃっす!" or "おっす!" can be a polite greeting in certain sport clubs/teams. You may be safe to say "うぃっす!" even to your seniors or advisers (But this greatly depends on the team you belong to). In such cases, the strength of your greetings determines the level politeness rather than what is actually said as a word. I think people use this because pronouncing "おはようございます" is too complicated to say out loudly. This is also something repeated almost meaninglessly in response to someone's speech, like "yes (sir)."

I can't say "うぃす" is incorrect, especially when it's used in the second situation. This is a shortened/altered form, so basically you can write this in whatever way you like. But "うぃーっす", "うぃーす" or "うぃっす" is more common.

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There's several variations on this (besides うぃーす, there's also うっす、おっす、ちーす and probably a few more that I'm not aware of), all of which are very informal masculine greetings. They don't really have a good English analogue - something like 'hey' or 'yo' or 'what's up' is probably the closest you'll get.

These are fairly masculine greetings, and the average girl probably won't come across much of a need for any of them - if I heard a girl use one, I'd assume she was just being silly. These are also very informal - you'd only ever use them with your equals or inferiors, and mostly only in informal situations (i.e. AFAIK two teachers might greet each other at a bar with one, but wouldn't greet each other at school with one). You could probably get away with calling them slang.

It's not correct to write it as うぃす, as that doesn't accurately reflect the pronunciation. As far as I know, no one shortens that vowel, so うぃす doesn't actually mean anything.

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