Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kiwi As

This one's for the linguists, dialectologists, and people who think New Zealanders talk funny. For starters, they say 'mate' more than any Australian I've ever met, and 'ay' more than any Canadian. (They 'reckon' about as often as Jen, in other words all the time.) Some finer points of New Zealand English as I've encountered it.

-The 'Sweet As' construction: People here use 'as' as an intensifier with adjectives. The prototypical example is 'sweet as!', roughly equivalent to American English 'sweeeeet!'. It's a productive construction. For example:
  -"Olympic racewalking is lame as."
  - "Don't worry, you'll be safe as."
  - "Kumara pie is Kiwi as."

- 'Heaps': As the PSA tells the NZ Olympic rowers several times an evening: 'Give it heaps." To be fair, New Zealand is doing heaps better than any of the other countries on that river.

-'Sorted': 'To be sorted': to have your affairs in order, to be sorted out, set up, have everything arranged. No trailing 'out' needed. Attested examples:
  -"Get your sober driver sorted."
  -(On a commercial for debt reduction): "It's all part of being sorted."
  -"Let's get you sorted on the website." (When I needed an admin password and instructions.)

-'That' dropping: Complimentizer 'that' can be dropped at will. Actual billboard on the way to the airport: "I love what I can do now [] I'm fit!" 'From' is also dropped, as in 'Let's stop kauri dieback disease [] killing all the trees.'

-Which chips?: As far as I can gather, "chips" can mean either french fries or potato chips. Fries can also be "fries". "Tomato sauce" is ketchup, not to be ladled on spaghetti.

-'Suss it out': "We'll suss it out when we get there." Means the same thing as American English, but way more commonly used.

-Clipping: People here actually say 'Makkie's" for McDonald's and 'chokkie' for chocolate, and  'bikkies' for biscuits (ie cookies). At least people in commercials do. I also saw several references to 'brekkie' in Sydney (for breakfast).

-'Good on ya': Good job, congrats. Good on ya for winning the canoe slalom, mate! Cheers!


  1. I want to add a few: "How ya goin?" equivalent to "How are you"/"How's it goin" in American English. Used as a general greeting from strangers, such as store greeters.

    Also "no worries" which is said all the time with meanings equivalent to "you're welcome" or "no problem"

    Also I think NZ English is in general more literal. Like "Female toilet" instead of "Ladies' Restroom" and "Way out" instead of "Exit."

    And of course, lots of general British usage like boot for trunk, etc.

    You are right about chips, they can mean either. Similarly pants can be used with either the British or American meaning.

    1. I love the 'female toilet' one! My internal monologue response is always 'wait, plumbing fixtures have a sex?', and then I kind of picture one toilet with a mustache, and another wearing lipstick, and then people start looking at me funny for giggling in the bathroom.