ouaich , ouech , wesh

F/2.8

Member
Australia, English
'WESH' or 'OUECH'

I've heard this word occasionally in conversations between young adults. I have no freakin idea what it means! Is it like 'yeah!' or some other similar expression of excitement?
 
  • turbotron

    New Member
    english - american
    i am quite sure it means something like "yo" as in american rappers and youth use. its slang, and informal to the fullest.
     

    vbcubey

    Member
    USA
    American English
    I'm translating a book that contains numerous usages of ouaich. I know what it means and its etymology, but I can't think of an English translation that preserves the quality of the original slang. I'm trying to find a way to translate ouaich into English that preserves the slang quality of it as well as the foreign nature of it (since ouaich exists in French because of the linguistic influence of North African immigrants). Any ideas?

    For example, a student says to a teacher, "Ouaich, madame!" as a salutation. I think that's roughly the equivalent of "What up, ma'am!" It doesn't capture the immigrant nature of the expression, though, and that's what I want. Does anyone have any ideas of how ouaich could best be translated?

    [...]
     
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    DearPrudence

    Dépêche Mod (AL mod)
    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    I really don't think "hiya" quite capture "wesh".
    "yo" was suggested :
    [...]
     
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    Dogfever

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - British
    How about this:
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Gwan

    I'm not getting into the potential pitfalls of this approach though. Words like this can be seen as linked to (or, in the case of cultural appropriation, owned by) specific cultures and you could well get into a social minefield using them in a way someone deems as unsympathetic or patronising (and there's always someone).
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Are you interested in North African specifically, or just the immigrant aspect?

    Hola!
     

    vbcubey

    Member
    USA
    American English
    @Kelly B: I don't necessarily care about finding a North African equivalent. An English translation rooted in some other immigrant community would be fine. My main concern is that I find something recognizable to a reasonably broad audience.

    @Dogfever: My concern is that gwan won't be understandable to many people. I don't worry about cultural appropriation. The book I'm translating deals with prejudice towards immigrants, particularly young immigrants. Therefore it has a lot of conversations that include young immigrants. Frankly, I think it'd be more offensive not to represent their dialect honestly. That's what I'm looking for: a translation that honestly preserves the way these kids speak.

    @DearPrudence: "Yo" is okay. I'm hoping for something a little more exotic. Maybe something more current with actual young people?
     

    Word!

    Member
    Français - France
    You might have to change expressions depending on the context (greetings, exclamation, filler...).
    How about " 'sup, ma'am?" "what's poppin'?" "wass happenin'?"... that kind of thing?
    "Yo" is good for greetings and is a good filler and good for exclamations. It also does have an Ebonics (African American) connotation so maybe that could fit?
     

    vbcubey

    Member
    USA
    American English
    @wildan1: I think "Yo" may be the way to go, but don't you think "teach" is a rather old-fashioned way to address a teacher? Or do you find that kids say that these days?

    @Word!: I like "Wass happenin'?" Of course, there's always "Wassup?" but I think that's become a cliche these days. Also: where did you hear "What's poppin'?" I love that but have never heard it. Is it currently in use?

    I also have to add that I love the contrast in register between "Sup" and "ma'am" in "'Sup, ma'am?" Excellent suggestion!
     

    Word!

    Member
    Français - France
    Hey, vbcubey,

    I know Black people in their late 20s/early 30s from Pittsburgh who use "what's happening" and "what's popping". I think it's African American slang from the 70s so I don't know if they use it cause they like it or cause it's popular. Snoop Dogg uses it too several times on his first album...

    I'm not sure what specific sentences you're trying to translate but, to go along with the 'sup ma'am, you could switch it up and say 'sup 'ma? It's pretty popular among Latinos and Blacks, I think Italian-Americans use it only to refer to their mother but it still has that non-white connotation if you see what i mean. Although, 'ma is very very informal so it might sound like they're hitting on the teacher... but also consider her at their level, a peer of sort. But again, depending on the context, it might fit? Like "how you doin', 'ma?" It's a pick up line but i could see a kid say that to sound smart.
     
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    Word!

    Member
    Français - France
    Although, 'ma is very very informal so it might sound like they're hitting on the teacher... but also consider her at their level, a peer of sort. But again, depending on the context, it might fit? Like "how you doin', 'ma?" It's a pick up line but i could see a kid say that to sound smart.
     

    lau69

    New Member
    French - France
    It is a word used in the suburbs of French cities (think it originated in Paris) which can be used in different ways. Mainly as a “hi”, but can also be used as a “hey” to drag the attention of someone. Or sometimes just …to start a phrase in a stylish manner

    (source : dicorico)
     

    Word!

    Member
    Français - France
    It is a word used in the suburbs of French cities (think it originated in Paris) which can be used in different ways. Mainly as a “hi”, but can also be used as a “hey” to drag the attention of someone. Or sometimes just …to start a phrase in a stylish manner

    (source : dicorico)

    It is used everywhere, not just in the suburbs and i think among the youth, it's not culture/social class specific anymore.
     

    Panem et Circenses

    New Member
    UK
    English - Trinidad
    How about this:
    Urban Dictionary: Gwan

    I'm not getting into the potential pitfalls of this approach though. Words like this can be seen as linked to (or, in the case of cultural appropriation, owned by) specific cultures and you could well get into a social minefield using them in a way someone deems as unsympathetic or patronising (and there's always someone).

    I think that this would be a better translation, since my Algerian friend tells me that it's from the Arabic word for 'what' - something like Wagwan/whatta gwan (what's going on) would probably be the most straightforward translation that still carries a lot of the connotations, and is easily recognisable by most people as far as I know, although more so in England and Canada due to the Caribbean-influenced culture that can be found in London - however, I do agree that it should only be used with people who already say it, since it could indeed seem like cultural appropriation or seem weird anyway, not to mention the informality associated with the use of Caribbean vocabulary (it is slang, after all)
     
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