Thursday, December 07, 2006

Kollikting hid-sits and Other Linguistic Travel Mysteries

Traveling to, say, Italy, where all you know is ciao and buena sera and prego and spaghetti is guaranteed to produce awkward moments, but it truly never occurred to me that New Zealand English might be a bit tough on the ears or the brain. On our outward bound flight on Air New Zealand such cringe times happened when we challenged the flight attendants on a couple of, um, I don't think these are the seats we were pre-assigned and can I have some ice with that but, other than that, we seemed to be able to communicate comfortably, if not a bit testily. I couldn't help but wonder who designed their uniforms, though. They all looked a bit Third Reich(y) and very uniforms for a no-nonsense crew.

The accent of the flight crew sounded, to my untrained ear, vaguely South African. I suppose I thought they'd lean more to the Australian "Seednie Harbour Breedge" (Sydney Harbour Bridge) English than the clipped South African accent my ear was hearing. I knew I was having trouble with comprehension, though, when this announcement came over the P.A. System shortly before landing: "Ladies and Gintlemin, a flight attindint will walk through shortly to kollikt your hidsits." I whipped my head around and stared vacantly at Roger who translated for me.

Within two hours, I had it almost down pat:

A pen is something you fry eggs in and is spelled P-A-N

A pin is a writing implement filled with ink and spelled P-E-N

A peer is not a peer of the realm but rather two of something and is spelled P-A-I-R

A pun can be either a safety-pun or a straight-pun but is spilled (oops, make that spelled) P-I-N

And very importantly it's fush and chups instead of fish and chips but it really sounded more like f'sh and ch'ps and it always pretty much tasted FABULOUS.

But the one hardest on the ear (to me) was the simple YIS (yes). After a week in New Zealand, though, I could pretty much be heard answering YIS to any question that asked if I wanted chups with that.


Blogger junebee said...

Crikey! That's worse than Canadian accents!

6:17 PM  
Blogger secret agent josephine said...

hee hee, fush and chups!

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Jenijen said...

mmmmmm chups. . .

9:10 PM  
Blogger granny p said...

You should just hear a new Zealand waitress trying to get her tongue round 'courgette' .. they'd do much better to give up and call it 'zucchini' like the aussies...

1:27 AM  
Blogger Leigh said...

I'm South African and this is too funny!

I also battle to understand the extreme New Zealand accent. However, when we were in Australia a few years ago on holiday, at the end of 2 days, I found myself adjusting and talking like them just to be understood.

Too funny! This is my favourite thing about travelling - how people speak the same English but so differently all over the world.

1:09 AM  
Anonymous Bee said...

OMG oh no, I don't know if I should laugh or cry. I don't have an accent? .... do I??? I guess the answer is "Yis"

We don't sound anything like the South Africans though! No way.

I agree about the Air NZ uniforms - what a shocker! I don't think anyone likes them.

If you travel from the North to South Island make sure you catch the Cook Straight Ferry (pronounced 'Fairy')

4:06 AM  
Blogger BD said...

The Kiwi accent is difficult now?

2:57 PM  

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