Do you speak Kiwi?

It is said that Britain and America are two countries separated by a common language and certainly our time living in Texas in the 1980’s led to some interesting communication issues, although this was mainly due to different pronunciation rather than to the words being used. To a lesser extent the same can be observed in relation to New Zealand, but hopefully this simple guide will suffice to allow the reader easy travelling in this beautiful country.

Some words are obvious – always ‘couch’ and ‘truck’, never settee or lorry – no child here has ever wrestled with the tongue twister ‘red lorry, yellow lorry’.

Some words replace everyday English words with more evocative or descriptive terms – e.g. ‘trundler’ for supermarket trolley, ‘swingbridge’ for suspension bridge (and boy do some of them swing when you walk on them) and ‘gumboots’ for wellies. Oh, and ‘going for a tramp’ doesn’t mean taking it out on a homeless person, rather it means going for a hike.

Some words are downright confusing, for instance ‘seal’ is not a marine mammal with fishy breath that lies around on rocks all day long (well yes it IS a marine mammal with fishy breath as well) but it also refers to tarmac, and ‘jandals’ are better known to most of you as flip-flops. On a hot day make sure your jandals don’t stick to the seal!

There was one word however that completely foxed us and that is ‘Manchester’. I invite all of my non-Kiwi readers to hazard a guess as to what Manchester might be (clue: you are most likely to see notices about Manchester in a supermarket). I will let you know the answer in the next blog … and no cheating by using Google!

Having banned my Kiwi readers from contributing to the Manchester question, perhaps you would like instead to suggest other words or phrases that might be included in an anthology of confusing terms for visiting Poms.

Of course the biggest confusion arises because of the accent. Air New Zealand’s Christmas advert last year is worth watching featuring Stephen Fry as a very confused Santa trying to work out what it is the Kiwi kids are wanting for Christmas. (Click here to view Air New Zealand/Santa)

Very briefly let me explain: ‘pan’ is pronounced “pen”, ‘pen meanwhile is pronounced “pin” and to complete the confusion ‘pin’ is pronounced “peen”. ‘Pon’ and ‘pun’ are pronounced as you would expect, except of course ‘pon’ isn’t a word 😁. I hope you are keeping up.

As usual here are a few photos to give you a flavour of our travels. We are currently doing what we promised ourselves we wouldn’t do and that is hammering out the kilometres to get down to Doubtful Sound for the weekend. We have an appointment with a ferry that we don’t want to miss. It was the only free date we could get which has forced us to whizz past amazing places en route without taking time out to savour them properly. Oh well it leaves us with stuff to do the next time we come! 👍

Farewell Spit, Golden Bay
Kaiteriteri beach
Cape Foul Wind, Westport
A moon jellyfish – harmless to touch and tastes like fishy water (apparently!)

4 Comments on “Do you speak Kiwi?”

  1. Ian my good friend,
    As a long-serving person of the insurance world I know that it’s not uncommon, for couples that ‘disappear’ to the other side of the world, for one of them to be ‘bumped off’ by the other. Of course I would never suspect this is the case with you, an honourable man.

    However when I read your blog there has ceased to be any material mention of our lovely Sally. Now this is just an idle observation, nothing more. I am not trying to start a conspiracy here. However can I seriously suggest that photoshopped pictures of Sally at such ridiculously made up places do not help, such as Farewell Spit (is that a clue) and Cape Foul Wind, which if any reader bothered to look up they surely would not find. Just saying.

    Yours in the highest regard


  2. Doubtful Sound brings back one of our favourite memories! We spent 24 hours aboard a yacht on the sound and it was such a magical experience. |It included canoeing, wildlife watching and talks and Richard joined a brave group of swimmers spending 5 minutes in the seemingly ‘black’ freezing water. Definitely recommended if you get the opportunity.

    Unlike your suspicious friend above, I have no worries for the wellbeing of my friend and, if I did, I would be on the first plane out there to save her from your disasterly plans! However, a picture of you both together in the next blog would allay all fears.

  3. Loving this blog! Language is so interesting! I’m just glad that in uk and Nz red wine means red wine🍷 👍
    Loved the last blog on wine!

    When we lived in Nottingham – would go to bakers for 6 cobs – when we came south – bakers didn’t know what we were asking for and be confused about 6 large loaves.. a cob in midlands is a bread roll… took me a while to adjust!

    Hmmm Manchester?? No idea – but I hope your next blog is not to far behind – otherwise I might be forced to google!

  4. Have decided that Manchester is a special checkout just for men who can’t cook🤣Appropriately named as the man grabs the frozen food from the freezer chest on his way home and he is always in a hurry!

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