New Zealand has three official languages: Maori, sign language and English!
English? BRILLIANT!! You have grown up speaking English! You will have no trouble communicating right?
You fly into Auckland airport, depart the plane, skip past the stunning Lord of the Ring/Hobbit murals, stroll through the bright lights of duty free, make your way past customs and finally walk through the sliding doors welcoming you to this magical English speaking country! The friendly IFSA-Butler NZ staff smile and wave beckoning you over to them. They open their mouths and… you nod and smile as you try to work out what some of the strange sounds coming out of their mouths are. The words seem familiar but.. is this English?
New Zealand English is slightly different to the English you may be used to. Words remain the same/similar but the pronunciation can be interesting. Generally Kiwis can be a little lazy with vowels so context becomes important. The words bear, bare and beer might be easily recognisable at home but the Kiwi accent morphs these into the same sound.
Here are a few tips and tools to help decipher the odd noises the locals have been making:
1. Add some words to your vocabulary:
Sweet as: good/agree – not sweet ass/arse
Yeah-na: no thank you
Keen: interested/want to participate. “are you keen to go to the beach?”
Mean: Great! Awesome! “the surf was mean”
Stoked: very pleased “I’m stoked with the grade i got on my test”
Dairy: corner store
Find more at: http://www.chemistry.co.nz/kiwi.htm
2. Make the pitch of your voice slightly higher at the end of each sentence
3. Get lazy and mix up your vowels to imitate the kiwi accent
Study the New Zillund alphabet:
Check out some helpful Youtube clips:
Beached Whale Youtube series: Watch, listen, mimic and learn along with this little blue whale and you will sound like a local in no time!
Always remember: the New Zealand accent is NOT THE SAME AS AUSTRALIAN!!!