Onomatopoeia, words that sound like a sound i.e. bang, clap, play a big part in the Maori language. A lot of the names of birds and insects are onomatopoeic. Kihikihi (Cicada), Kea, Kaka, Kiwi, Whio (Blue Duck), Rakiraki (duck), Ruru (Morepork/Owl). Or they have their own accent, such as auau (dog bark), keke (quack).
Comparing our sounds with those from around the world, is often good for a laugh on the bus. Ask a French person what noise a Rooster makes, its not Cockadoodle doo! Or try asking a German what noise their ambulances make.
There are a few things about the human Kiwi accent that always confuses my Stray guests. “Go to reception and chicken (check-in)”, “do you need a pin (pen)?”, “Dorms are $26 or you can tint (tent) for $15”.
But one kiwi accentism left me with sore cheeks and stomach muscles today at Blue Duck lodge. We were having a Movie Quiz and one of the questions was asking which celebrity was sued by cattle farmers for talking about Mad Cow disease? Unfortunately the guests heard me say ‘silly Britty’ instead of celebrity. Not so good for diplomatic relations but good for a laugh when one brave English guy asked for clarification!
Apparently the NZ accent was starting to take shape as early as 1910 and is still changing according to the experts. It is considered a melding of Scottish, Irish & English accents.
According to a recent BBC survey, the Kiwi accent is the most attractive and prestigious English speaking accent outside the UK! Yes, we beat the Ozzies at something! So make sure you enjoy ‘Fush & Chups’ while in NZ, they are sure to be better than Oz’s ‘Feesh & Cheeps’.
By the way, if you were wondering what the answer is for the quiz, it was Oprah Winfrey.