Friday, January 12, 2007

Speaking Kiwi

My first task on arrival in New Zealand was to go and buy a gardening strimmer in the local hardware store. However to my complete surpise it was only after some detailed explanation that myself and the shop attendants established that what I was really looking for was what they call a weed eater.

Little did I know that this was only the beginning of a new and unexpected language learning experience that within only a matter of hours would add many more kiwi variations to my repotoire of southern hemisphere speech. I was to soon ascertain that a shopping trolley is a trundler, a pepper is a capsicum, a zuchini is a corgette, a pick-up truck is a ute (in reference to utility vehicle), monted means destroyed and a hunting lodge is a bach (bachelors pad) . Being based on a farm also made it imperitive that I understood that a block is a small farm while a larger one is known as a station. Furthermore what we call a jeep, they term a truck, what we call flip-flops, they lable jandles and the farm of someone who has a full time job but also works this small amount of land is known as a lifestyle block.

At times I have also found that the locals have been unable to understand me due to our very differing accents and pronunciation. In fact before ever stepping foot on NZ soil many people expressed an immense dislike for the kiwi lilt. However I on the other hand find the accent to be quite endearing although sometimes very odd in it's own kiwi way. A perfect example of this is the town where I am based being spelled "Howarden" but pronounced "Hawden". Nonetheless my absolute favourite Kiwi'ism has to be the local yes which they transform to YEEEE or if you are lucky you might even catch a more rare but no less authentic, EEEEE! This is admittedly quite contagious and I often find myself immiting it in chorus with Irish friends, much to the bemusement of the nearby New Zealanders.

However it must be said that all the slagging of each peculiar parlance is really just our stubborn recognition of mutual understanding and fondness, with of course a bit of craic thrown in to ensure that everything is "Sweet as !!"

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