Speech Impediments

Posted on: Friday, December 29th, 2000
Posted in: RTW Travelog, Blog, New Zealand | Leave a comment

  • Waiheke Island, New Zealand.

They speak English here. That was one big reason we chose New Zealand for the longest leg of our journey. Having settled before in places where English is not a first or even second language, we favored the chance to exercise literacy, converse completely, and minimize sign language.

It was a smart decision; we feel more connected and less dumb. But dialects are thick here, from the Scottish brogue of South-Island Kiwis to ex-Brits that can sound like Cockneys or the Queen. And then there are the Aussies and Maoris and Asians and Islanders. Still, we stand out. Ours is American-English with peculiar lingo. So conversational obstacles are commonplace.

For example, on my second day here I ordered lunch at Salvage, a trendy cafeteria hangout. The conversation went something like this.

ME: Good morning.
HE: G´day, mate.

ME: I see there´s “kuh-MOO-ra” in this; what´s that?
HE: Excuse me?

ME: Can you tell me what “kuh-MOO-ra” is?
HE: Don´t think so. Don´t believe we have any of that.

ME: Well, the sign here says there´s “kuh-MOO-ra” in this.
HE: Oh! Righty-oh. That´s “KOO-muh-ruh,” mate. A local sweet “po-TAH-to.”

ME: OK, great! And what´s that it´s in?
HE: That´s a “slauce.”

ME: A “slauce?” What´s a “slauce?”
HE: It´s like a big, square quiche that we cut into “slauces.”

ME: Oh, sure. I´ll have a “slauce,” please. And the sign says it´s got “bacon” in it, but we´d call that “ham.”
HE: “Homm?” Hmmm. Fancy a “bah-ROON-uh” with that. Our local “BEE-ya.”

ME: Yes, please. So THAT´s how it´s pronounced! Just a small.
HE: Only got one “saze.” That´s “ite” dollars.

ME: Wow. About $3.20 at home. The beer alone would cost that much! Here.
HE: Would it, then. But that´s only a “FOI-vuh.”

ME: Oh, sorry. Here´s a ten. Keep it.
HE: No worries. (handing back $2 coin)

ME: No, this is for you. (pushing coin back at him)
HE: Ah! Good on ya, mate! Ta!

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