TEN PIGEONS UNDER A
Although separated by only 1200 miles (2000 km) of the Tasman Sea, Australia
and New Zealand, both former British colonies, have drifted poles apart in their
choice of English words and the way they pronounce their vowels. When a New
Zealander says "six" an Australian hears "sex" or "sux"; when an Aussie says
"six" the Kiwi hears "seeks."
I was educated in New Zealand, but have spent most of my life in Australia,
and have an Oz-born wife, children and grandchildren, and a dinki-di Australian
accent. My sister lives in New Zealand, and her children and grandchildren are
Kiwis, so they speak kinda funny.
Everyday Kiwi talk often puzzles Aussie visitors. Sydney Morning Herald
readers last week (September 24 to 29) contributed these examples to that
newspaper's "Column 8":
"Traffic calming devices are judder bars, and shopping trolleys are
trundlers." (Phil Jones, Mosman).
"Their [trundlers] return point outside a supermarket is always
signposted as Trundler Park. I spent ages wondering who this Mr or Mrs
Trundler was, and why they had so many unappealing sites named after them."
(David Howard, Killara).
"I have often gone to the corner store referred to in NZ as a dairy, and
have never yet seen a cow in there." (David Bennetts, Bowral).
"When I moved to NZ a few years back I was given a detention for talking
during an exam. My request? For liquid paper/white-out. No one knew what I was
talking about, until someone told me it was twink. And what country was I from
again?" Liz Christie (Narangba, Queensland).
Alex Mayo (Newtown) had heard of chillybin for Esky (a portable
box to keep food or drink either cold or hot), and jandals for the
footwear Aussies call thongs (which are something else again in U.S.). Ken Donelan (Paihia, Bay of Islands,NZ) said that in the South Island, using a
vacuum cleaner is luxing (short for Electrolux). The coloring pen that
Aussies call a Texta is a vivid pen. (Louise Thompson, Albury).
Aussies hungering for sausages they know as frankfurts should ask for
cheerios. (Max McKinnon, Forresters Beach). And Mavis McCall (Glenhaven)
bought strawberries in pottles, instead of tubs.
Reviewing The Reed Dictionary of New Zealand Slang, David McGill
wrote: "More than 30,000 entries cover the astonishing range of weird and
wonderful communal sayings that give Kiwi speak its distinctive flavour. From
the earliest days, the interaction of Maori and English has generated the most
incontrovertibly Kiwi slang, from komaty and pissed as ten pigeons
under a mockamock tree through the many variations of up the boohai
shooting pukakas to recent contributions such as electric puha, Tegel
pigeon, the kapaiburger and the kotanga aerial."
"Meet New Zealand", a Government booklet for American visitors, says "New
Zealanders have been well trained by your movies, so we cotton (catch) on to
most of your ordinary slang. We share ours with Australia, though we do have a
little of our own. Some of our language also is just ordinary English which
varies from yours."
Examples of this are:
- ANZAC: Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, or a member of that corps.
- BENZINE: gasoline.
- BISCUIT: cookie, cracker.
- BLOKE: man.
- CHEMIST'S SHOP: drugstore (but you don't get candy or drinks there).
- COW: may just mean cow, but may also mean an unpleasant man, woman or
situation. These things may also be called, progressively, a FAIR cow, and a
FAIR ADJECTIVAL COW.
- CROOK: ill, bad. To FEEL CROOK, to feel ill. A CROOK BOSS, a bad employer.
... and many others.
Here are five New Zealand words, with their meanings, and examples of their
use, discovered thanks to that amazing new internet search facility, Google
KIWI. An endangered flightless bird with vestigial wings, stout legs
and a long slender bill, native to New Zealand; a New Zealand soldier or
sportsperson; any New Zealander; New Zealand dollar.
"A Clinton Toopi hat-trick helped the Kiwis to a
memorable 30-16 victory against Australia in Auckland today in the 100th
rugby league test between the two countries... The result went some way to
wiping the memory of Australia's 48-6 win in Sydney three months ago. It
also continued the Kiwis' good record at North Harbour Stadium, where they
now have a 3-1 advantage over the Kangaroos."
- Rugby League: Kiwis win centenary test; Robert Lowe, New Zealand
Herald (Auckland), October 18, 2003.
"Stephen Fleming may be seeing
visions of making history by becoming the first New Zealand captain to win
a Test series in India, but his batsmen have already created another bit
of history at Mohali. When all-rounder Scott Styris completed his second
Test century this afternoon, it was the first time ever in India that the
top three batsmen of a side had scored a century in the same innings...
And given the way the Kiwis batted through the first two days, a draw
seems the most likely result."
- Kiwi batsmen create history; Harish Kotian, Rediff (India), Oct 17,
HAKA is a challenging chant and war dance now performed by New
Zealand's All Blacks rugby team before international games.
"Former All Black lock Robin Brooke has spearheaded an
internet campaign to take the haka to the world, as New Zealand's All
Blacks take it to the World Cup. Tourism New Zealand has launched the
history of the haka, including the most famous haka of all, Ka Mate, on
its website, newzealand.com... Brooke, who played 62 tests for the All
Blacks, said that although recent tradition suggested the haka was the
exclusive domain of men, legend and history reflected a different story,
and Ka Mate told of the power of female sexuality. The website also said
women not only participated in the haka, they led, dominated and danced in
the front ranks and carried weapons, often to protect the haka party."
- Jumping up and down about the haka; NZPA report in New Zealand Herald
(Auckland), Oct 14, 2003.
"Whitehaven's market place was brought to
a standstill yesterday when the visiting New Zealand rugby league team
performed their legendary Haka. Shoppers watched with delight as the Kiwis
announced their colourful arrival with the traditional Maori war dance.
'It's very special to us. We don't treat it lightly and it's part of our
culture,' said Kiwi coach Gerard Stokes."
- A Haka Hello!, Martin Morgan, Cumberland News and Star (Carlisle,
UK), Oct 17, 2003.
MAORIS are members of a brown-skinned Polynesian people whose
ancestors first arrived in New Zealand in canoes,
from about 1150AD and in "a great fleet" in the 14th century, from Hawaiki, a
mythical land usually believed to be Tahiti.
"At another level, many of the indigenous Maori people
are concerned about the implication of the court for the Treaty of
Waitangi, the 1840 agreement between the Maori chief and white settlers
that allowed the settlers land while respecting the Maoris access to land
and its resources. In recent years, the Maoris have increasingly sought to
exercise such rights, but fear that the withdrawal from the Privy Council
will mean a rapid move to Republican status. The upshot, they fear, will
be the undermining of the Waitangi Treaty."
- New Zealand deciding on judges after dumping Privy Council; Jamaica
Observer (Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies), Oct 19, 2003.
"Resplendent in red, yellow and black, the Maoris startled and mesmerised
in the same breath....and the Puneri audience at the Namdeo Sabhagriha was
spell-bound. You see, the dancers of the Kahurangi Maori Dance Theatre (KMDT)
from Hastings, New Zealand, were in town to render a performance on
Monday, as part of the exchange programme with the Centre of Performing
Arts, Pune University. 'Depicting the Maori culture through song, dance
and language is our aim,' says director Te Rangi Huata."
- Maori Magnificence; Nisha Nambiar, India Express, Oct 14, 2003.
MOA was a New Zealand flightless bird resembling an ostrich. Sadly,
it's now extinct, although moa skeletons are displayed in museums.
"Throughout history, wherever people entered a virgin
environment, they immediately set about wiping out species, starting with
'the big, the slow, and the tasty.' One of the most interesting examples
is New Zealand, which [Edward O.] Wilson says was a 'vast biological
wonderland' before the Maoris came ashore in the late thirteenth century.
Because it is remote from Australia and other landmasses, the islands
lacked native mammals. As a result, large, flightless birds called moas,
with an eagle as their only known predator, evolved and radiated into
niches that would otherwise have been filled by creatures such as
woodchucks, rabbits, deer, and even rhinos. Upon the Maoris' arrival,
however, they systematically butchered the moas, with the result that by
the middle of the fourteenth century they were all gone."
- The Future of Life; Edward O. Wilson, reviewed by Walt Hays; Timeline, Sep/Oct 2002,
Foundation for Global Community
"Curators at the nation's
museums are preparing to cut their moa displays down to size. The largest
moa species, Dinornis giganteus, will soon no longer feature in
scientifically accurate exhibits at the museums. Cutting-edge research,
using DNA extracted from moa bones at the Otago Museum and other
institutions, shows the 'giant' moas were, in fact, huge females, but not
members of a separate giant species."
- Curators rush to re-label giant moa - a separate species no more;
NZPA report, Stuff Co. NZ National News, Oct 8, 2003.
Moa is also the name of a well-known singer (so is Australia's Christine ANU):
"Maori pop star Anika Moa has taken the New Zealand music
scene by storm and already has a record deal with Atlantic Records. The
deal came about after Warner Bros in NZ heard her song 'Flowers for You',
which featured on a CD of the NZ secondary schools rock competition, the
Smokefree Rockquest. Ron Shapiro, President of Atlantic Records in New
York, signed her after hearing her play three songs live."
- 100% Pure New Zealand; Media Resources.
PAVLOVA is a meringue-like dessert with a concave crust made from egg
whites, filled with whipped cream and fresh kiwifruit, strawberries etc.
Both Australia and New Zealand claim to have originated the term. It derives
from Anna Pavlova (1881-1931), a famous Russian dancer credited with having made
the ballet a form of entertainment popular world-wide.
Anna stayed at the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, Western Australia during a 1929
tour of Australia. The hotel chef, Herbert (Bert) Sachse, served the now
familiar dessert for afternoon tea. Legend has it that someone - the licensee,
manager or chef - exclaimed, "It's as light as Pavlova!" Kiwis claim that
a recipe for Meringue with Fruit Filling was published in a book, Home
Cookery for New Zealand in 1929, which Australians used and termed Pavlova.
"We finished with the grand dessert platter, and I would
have to conclude that the poor chef is a patissier who has lost his way;
for this was truly fabulous. Pavlova, strawberry delice, sticky toffee
pudding, two different crème brûlées and a chocolate mousse."
- Eyes down for a full plate; Gillian Glover, The Scotsman (Edinburgh,
Scotland), Oct 18, 2003.
"ST. PETERSBURG -- A fire broke out at one
of the country's most prestigious ballet schools on Monday, damaging 60
square meters inside the building and prompting authorities to evacuate
its students. The fire erupted in a second-story room at the Vaganova
Ballet Academy, the St. Petersburg fire department said... Founded in
1738, the academy in the former imperial capital is one of the oldest and
most famous Russian ballet schools. Several of its graduates have gone on
to star at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and the Mariinsky Theater in St.
Petersburg. Anna Pavlova graduated from the academy in 1899, and the
Mariinsky's current lead dancer, Ulyana Lopatkina, is also an alumna."
- Fire Breaks Out at Ballet School; AP report, Moscow Times (Russia),
Sep. 30, 2003.
POSTSCRIPT. We've just discovered that in 1994, leading Australian
playwright Alex Buzo wrote Kiwese - a guide, a ductionary, a shearing of
unsights, a Strine-like Aussie view of NZ English. The 145-page book,
published by Reed Books Australia, sold 15,000 copies.
Copyright © 2003
Story first posted