New Zealandish


There are few accents more interesting than the New Zealand accent. It’s not quite Australian, as any Kiwi will tell you. Nor is it British—it lacks the uppercrustiness. It’s not cockney, either, though it’s equally earthy. It is an anomaly among accents—at least to me, who has lived among southerners her whole life long, and thinks anything other than a drawl is exotic.

My roommate is from New Zealand. In other words, I get to listen to my favorite accent all year. Not only that, but she’s an awesome human being, and a fellow hippie. She’s the one who shared her pilates video with me the other day.

I told her tonight that my goal for the end of the year is to be able to successfully mimic her accent. This implies that I will be repeating her sentences and phrases quite a bit, and I assured her that this would not be mockery, but rather the sincerest form of flattery. She said that was all right with her.

I have begun with the word “yeah.”

Americans say “yeah” in a million different ways, but the most common is the one with a good long “a” sound in the middle, rhyming with “can” and “man.” It sounds a bit like a crow calling for help. The New Zealand “yeah” has a short “e” sound, like “get” and “bend.” It’s more of a “yeh” than a “yeah.”

You’d think that would be easy to imitate. Surprisingly, it isn’t. I’ve tried it several times, but only one try warranted a “that sounds right!”

So far I can’t even get “yeah.” But I keep telling myself, hey, baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor can New Zealandish be mastered in a week.

If anything, I’ll at least be able to say “yeah” by the end of the year.

They always told me to set realistic goals.


2 responses »

  1. Haha good luck with that. I work with both a Filipino and an Indian who try and mimick my accent. It is hilarious because they both have their own very strong accents.

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