March 29, 2007

How to Speak Kiwi

I haven’t yet mastered the accent, nor even come close really (just can’t figure out how to say their “o”!), but I’ve had to learn some new words since moving here.


Kiwi English/US English

biscuit: cookie **

boot: trunk

brilliant: awesome

capsicum: green pepper

chilly bin: cooler

chips: french fries

chippies: chips

choice: awesome

coriander: cilantro

dairy: convenience store

dodgy: sketchy

drinks: happy hour

entrée: appetizer

flash: fancy, ritzy

flat out: busy, crushed

full on: intense, all out

half 9: 9:30

heaps: lots, a bunch

jam: jelly

jandals: flip-flops

jelly: jello***

lift: elevator

lollies: candy****

main: entrée

pavement: sidewalk

panel beater: auto body shop

pissed: drunk

pissed: angry

pissed: peed

serviette: napkin (fabric)

tea: dinner

morning tea: morning snack

sorted: organized

sultana bran: raisin bran

tea: tea

tomato sauce: ketchup

tramping: hiking

tyre: tire

windscreen: windshield

what’s on: what’s happening


**Although Kiwis also use the word “cookie”, they do not have a term for buttermilk biscuits, as they do not exist here.

***Imagine my confusion when I saw “jelly wrestling” outside of a stripper club!

****except for chocolate, which is referred to as “chocolate bars”


And some phrases:

When Kiwis tease someone, they “take the piss out of” them. They say “good on ya”, instead of “good for you”. I always pause a bit too long when someone asks “how you going?”, as I’m expecting either “how’s it going?”, or “how you doing?”.

One of the funniest terms/phrases to me, though, is when someone asks me to “flick” an email. It just reminds me of flicking a booger! (I guess that’s what happens when you have three brothers….)

Another funny one to me is that people are taken to hospital. Not THE hospital, just hospital, as if it’s a city.

I think I have mentioned the phrase “sweet as” before. Kiwis say the phrase, but never finish it – it’s for the listener to fill in, I suppose. I’ve noticed lately, though, that Kiwis like to add “as” on to other words without finishing the sentence: “crazy as” , “mad as” etc.

Kiwis love the word “aye”. It’s often at the end of the sentence, but not quite how the Canadians use it. It’s more of an affirmation, as in “I saw a movie, and it was excellent aye.” I’ve also heard people say “aye” instead of “what” if they didn’t hear what someone said.

Instead of counting down days, I often hear people saying “three sleeps to go!” I’ve heard this in other parts of the world, though, so not quite certain it’s exclusive to NZ.

And the thing that bugs me the most: zed. It is the pronunciation of the letter “z”. I understand every country outside of the USA that speaks English probably said Zed, but I just can’t. It’s an entire word for one letter! I did look up the etymology, and I learned that “zed” comes from the Greek alphabet letter /zd/. As that is two letters, and not the one “z” we have now, I ask that English speakers stop saying “zed”. Cool? Thanks. =)


The Kiwis also LOVE to abbreviate!

Wellington = Welly
Presents = Pressies
Mosquitos = Mozzys
“www” = dub dub dub
Sunglasses = sunnies
Breakfast = brekkie
Biscuit(cookie) = bikkie
Cardigan = cardi


And finally, some pronunciations:

Filet, as in ‘filet of fish’ is pronounced ‘fill-it’ here. Of course, I’ve seen it spelled fillet too, so maybe that’s why?

A garage is pronounced ‘gARE-ege’ (rhyming with carriage, which I guess makes sense, but I still can’t bring myself to say it.)

I’m still trying to get the hang of how ‘i’ and ‘e’ are pronounced. More on that later!



I’ll add to this list as I learn more words and phrases.

10 comments:

Viraj said...

I like the "dub dub dub". It always bothered me that it took 9 syllables to say www.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Hi there, I found your blog through Aotearoa Dreaming. Reading some of your older posts reminded me of when I first arrived in NZ more than 11 years ago, including some stuff I'd forgotten. You'll get used to the accent eventually, and will suddently find yourself using Kiwi slang without even thinking about it.

For me there's only two words I won't use: "Tea" meaning dinner and mate, because to me it just sounds wrong with an American accent.

Personally, I think the last letter of the alphabet now sounds weird if it's NOT pronounced "zed" (and initials like TVNZ, ANZ or NZ Post just don't work the American way). You do realise that "zee" is a word too? Yip? Sweet as.

d said...

Hmm...I've never quite bought the counter-argument that "zee" is also a word. To me, it's a pronounciation of the letter - one letter - whereas Zed is a promounciation of "zd".

Right now, though, most of the words sound weird to me with my American accent. Maybe over time...

Scott Bro said...

Looks like lots of the colloquialisms are similar to those found in the UK, with some Aussie ones thrown in.

I wonder what they call coriander? Here in the US, coriander is a spice from the seeds from the plant whose leaves we call cilantro. So, if cilantro is coriander, what is coriander?

Are eggplants called aubergines as in the UK (and France, where the word comes from)?

d said...

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Coriander. Looks like there are coriander leaves and "fruit" (coriander seeds), and the generic term here usually means the seeds.

And yep! Aubergine=eggplant here. Can't believe I forgot to list that one!

Anonymous said...

The food ones get me, like courgette instead of zucchini.

JJ said...

I was going to point out that "zee" is also a word. I guess it just depends on perspective...

Also, if you really want to see excessive abbreviation, take a leaf out of Australia's book. When I first "hopped over the ditch" back in '94, I was shocked, horrified and appalled when a family friend over there called a tennis ball a "tenno"! Us kiwis will NEVER be that bad!! ;o)

Eric said...

Love ya site aye. It's always good to get another perspective of En Zed. Just a quickie to point out that zee is a relatively recent form of pronunciation of z. From memory it stems from the early 1900's. In the ongoing trend of simplify English, as espoused by the originator of Websters Dictionary, a group of educators in New York decided to make the alphabet easier to use for school pupils. The only letter that did not work in with any other was the letter z (zed). ABC DEF GHI JKL MNO, etc. All other letters ended with soft/round sound, like cee and dee, so they changed zed to zee.

Anonymous said...

im a kiwi and really like our language ,i listen to poms ,and aussies ,who slag us off ,and at least we can be understood ,lol or so i thought till i meet my philippino partner ,who had great problems understanding me ,i thought she must have a hearing defect ,as the sweet nz tones ,even my dog can understand ,i call come ,and after 3to 4 times she comes ,but she is female so i expect a slow reaction time ,well bye bye now ,

62Holden said...

In New Zealand and Australia, 'coriander' refers to the leaves. You can buy them fresh or dried in spice jars. We use the term 'coriander seeds' for the spice (seeds) which are sold whole or ground.
As as Aussie, the Kiwi term 'yip' instead of 'yep' (for 'yes') always makes me chuckle. :-)
It's the one time a word is spelled the way the Kiwi accent would probounce it. :-) :-) :-)