Harae mai! Did you know that New Zealand English is called kiwi by the locals? ‘This accent can sound very strange to foreigners’ says our intern Peter Macnab who speaks with this accent as he was born in New Zealand. In this blog he will describe some of the interesting features of the kiwi accent.
First of all: What is a New Zealander or as we say a Kiwi doing in Germany?
I am on a school exchange trip in and at the moment doing an internship at blc. When I speak English in Germany most people ask me if I am from Australia, because they either have never heard a New Zealand accent or they can’t tell the difference between the two. New Zealand English changes depending on where you are in the country.
Pronounciation is everything
In Otago and Southland the accent sounds fairly similar to an Australian accent and many Europeans cannot tell the difference. As they pronounce “ear” and “air” as “ear”, and “chairs” and “cheers” as “cheers” so the airline Air New Zealand is “Ear New Zealand” and people sit on “cheers”, not on “chairs”. Another funny speech mishap is that they can’t speak or hear the difference between “here”, “hair” and “hare” they are all pronounced as “here”.
When you propose to do something and someone says “sweet as” this does not mean they are complimenting your rear end like “sweet ass” or “arse”. Instead this means “cool”, “sure”, “yes” or “it was good” depending on the context. “Yeah nah” is deferent depending on the context. With food it often means means “Yes I have considered it and would probably eat/drink it another time but no thank you”. It can also be used when someone answers a question only half correct or gives a bad statement and then you would answer “yeah nah but…”.
Far north you have a different type of accent often known as bro town or Maori English it is often spoken by Maori but some Päkehas (Maori for European New Zealanders) speak it as well. It is mostly filled with “bros” and a more slurred and deep way of speaking. This type of speaking is often stereotyped to depict a typical Maori New Zealander.
A popular greeting in New Zealand is “Kia Ora” (“Hello” in the native Maori language). So, when someone says “Kia Ora” to you then you can say it back or answer with a simple “Hello”. The accents may sound similar to an Australian accent but when you meet someone and you guess the wrong nationality it makes you sound a bit silly. Today the language is thought to originate from south-east England, where many settlers were from. Ever since schools became mandatory, it spread fast through children picking it up and spreading it round the county via schools.
I hope that you want to come to my beautiful country and if you come, you have already learned a little bit about the language.
Haere Rā (goodbye).