A fun highlight of visiting English-speaking countries is learning just how different a language English can become. We discovered this big-time in New Zealand in 1996.
First, there were the words that sound exactly the same but mean something completely different. (If you’ve been to the UK, you’ll likely recognize these.) For example:
biscuit = cookie
tea = the drink; but also morning or afternoon tea, the break you take, like in England; but ALSO supper, so when someone invites you “for tea” you really have to nail ’em down
bench = counter (in a kitchen)
bonnet = hood of car
Then there are some which kinda-sorta sound like our terms, but still caught me off guard till I got used to them:
takeaway = take-out (food)
panel beater = body shop (for cars)
And then there was the accent.
Understand, we lived in the southern part of the South Island. That’s like someone from outside the US moving to, say, Alabama. Even the folks we met in Auckland, in the North, said, “Oh, Dunedin…they have queer ways down there” (which to me sounded like, “queeh wize dan theh”).
My favorite accent story involves Son One thinking someone at his school shared his name, when it turned out that the kid’s name only sounded the same due to the accent. But I can’t explain further without violating Son One’s privacy. 🙂
Son Two, at kindergarten (“Kindie”), had so much trouble understanding the other kids (“kuds”), that he gave up, poor kud, and spent playtime by himself.
So, I’ve just alluded to two components of the Kiwi accent. One is the tendency to abbreviate everything. (Australians–Aussies–do this too.) Therefore,
kindergarten = kindie
biscuits = bickies
postman = postie
milkman = milkie
OK, Kiwi Kwiz time! You fill in the blanks:
The Kiwi Kwiz was something I developed for funsies, in weekly emails back home. (No Facebook or blogging back then.) To play, you need to know about the second component of the accent: the Great Vowel Shift. You already know that “mate” becomes “mite” down there. But, in the South at least, short “i” turns into a short “u” sound–“kid” becomes “kud”–and the short “e” becomes a short “i”: “fresh” becomes “frish.”
Thus, the brand new supermarket in town, Big Fresh, was pronounced Bug Frish. We loved this.
Other vowel shifts included “skeery” for “scary,” “stike” for “steak,” and “poi” for “pie.” So. Ready for another Kwiz? These are some phrases we heard:
What are “chicken formalities”? (Hint: it’s something they call you to the counter, I mean the bench–or the binch–to take care of at the airport.)
What is “cheetah chase”? (Hint: it’s good melted on bread.)
What is “Kevin sailing?” (Hint: it’s what you see when you’re in a cave and you look up.)
First one with the most correct Kwiz answers wins a prize! I mean a proize.
Next post (which will be the last one will I get back in February): Reason #2 for the Return to Kiwiland. But here’s a hint: