Sunday 21 June 2009

The Kiwi accent

The Christchurch Press's weekend magazine has an extensive discussion of the Kiwi accent (sorry, no link).
Mangled vowels and muddy tones are accusations hurled at us. Want to talk like a Kiwi? Easy. Put a peg on your nose. Now, change the vowel sounds: A to E; E to I; I to U. Talk in a monotone, and finish each sentence with an upward inflexion, like a question.
They forgot to mention that "aw" becomes "or". And so I almost ran off the road listening to the radio and hearing an ad for what I thought was "New Zealand's Largest Porn Shop", enthusiastically describing how they could cater to every taste and every need. Once they mentioned they had bicycles, I figured out that it was an ad for a pawn shop. But it took me a minute. I asked some of the Kiwis at lunch that day to repeat the following sentence: "I went to the pawn shop to buy some porn." I couldn't tell the difference between the two words. They claimed it didn't much matter as it would usually be clear from context.

Strange place.

Update: Ira's copy of Hairy McLary's Bone rhymes "Southerland's Sauce" with "Hercules Morse". Everyone surveyed in the Department agrees that this is a perfectly acceptable rhyme.

Sauce == source. Strange strange strange.


  1. Some of my Australian friends find it quite funny that NZers believe that beer, bear and bare are homonyms. It causes much merriment when I'm attempting to get a drink.

  2. My father was Scottish and did his best to get my brothers and me to make a distinction between witch and which - but we didn't.

  3. I seem to remember a conversation with you, Eric, in which my lazy kiwi way of saying 'sects' led to some confusion.

    Maybe I'll start putting on a British accent when talking to foreigners.