21 October 2013

Discovering that your children sound like New Zealanders

It's a dispiriting fact that no one in the history of the English language has ever considered our accent smart, sexy or cool. At best, a few people regard it as cute – a friend was shouted several martinis by a group of elderly revellers in a New York bar purely on the grounds that the way she pronounced the word "snake" was, apparently, adorable. Most of the world, however, can't understand a word we say.

One Internet site encouraging people to emigrate to New Zealand remarks, without a hint of an apology, that "you will meet some New Zealanders who speak so quickly and so indistinctly that nearly all migrants will have difficulty understanding them". Another offers helpful translations of Kiwi words such as "brist" ("part of the human anatomy between the 'nick' and the 'billy' "), "bugger" ("as in 'mine is bugger than yours' ") and "duck hid" (as in "a term of abuse directly mainly at males").

Even my husband, who is English, periodically demands we leave New Zealand whenever there's fresh evidence that our kids are beginning to speak like Kiwis. "My son has just used the word 'dunny'," he'll announce, bleakly. "Pack your bags. We must go this minute." Or: "My daughter has just finished a sentence with 'ay'. Get the passports." Once, I casually remarked that my husband was himself ending sentences with a rising inflexion: only by barring the way to the bathroom was I able to stop him from flinging himself on his razor blades.

- Linley Boniface, Stuff.co.nz, 8 December 2008

[H/T: Communique]
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