Spoken English in New Zealand - Similar to American English?

Torsten   Monday, October 18, 2004, 21:19 GMT
Hello everybody,

As Antimoon is probably one of the most useful websites retaled to English language questions I'm sure I'll get an answer to this question:

How would you define the type of English that is spoken in New Zealand? I was always of the impression that people from New Zealand speak a version of English that is very similar to Australian English but then I heard a young person from New Zealand giving an interview on TV and I noticed that her English was very close to North American English - especially the way she pronounced the 'r'.

Now, could you please shed some light on this issue?
Many thanks in advance.
Jim   Tuesday, October 19, 2004, 01:12 GMT
I believe there are some rhotic pockets in Kiwiland. Other to this they don't sound particularly American to me.
Ben   Tuesday, October 19, 2004, 15:19 GMT
I would say that NZ English is for the most part about as far from American English as you get, so much so that for most Americans it's often very difficult to understand.

As Jim said, I believe there are a few small areas of the country where there's a strong Scottish influence on the dialect, but I've heard very little similarity with American.
vn23   Tuesday, October 19, 2004, 15:30 GMT
I'm from one of those rhotic pockets but we don't sound american... the vowels are different. The rest of the country does like to make fun of our accent though!
Damian   Tuesday, October 19, 2004, 15:37 GMT
I bang on a bit about the Scottish thing I guess, but Ben is right...there was a Scottish influence in Z, especially in South Island. The city of Dunedin was named after Edinburgh (the old name of which was Dun Eidann). Then there is Invercargill, right down at the southernmost tip of S.Island, which I believe resembles a Scottish town in some way, not sure how. Maybe the climate down there is the closest NZ has to the Scottish climate but not as cold in winter. "Inver" is a prefix for many Scottish place names..Inverness, Inveraray, Inverurue etc.

I don't think I would be able to tell the difference between Oz and NZ accents with any degree of accuracy. I've had this out with a NZ guy who shared my accommodation at uni and he said there are very distinct differences, but I must be dense as I'm no wiser.

Any resemblance to American? No way, that's for sure in my mind, fwiw.
vn23   Tuesday, October 19, 2004, 15:58 GMT
It probably resembles Scotland (along with Dunedin) because something like 90% of the people's families come from Scotland.
vn23   Tuesday, October 19, 2004, 16:01 GMT
Also on a winter's day Dunedin and its hills look a like Scotland!
vn23   Tuesday, October 19, 2004, 16:09 GMT
Edit: look a lot like Scotland
svalovec   Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 05:14 GMT
North Islanders are quite often difficult to distinguish in terms of accent from Australians. I should know, there are enough of you mob over here :).

From my perspective the South Islanders that have had the immediately and characteristically NZ accent seem to switch their 'e's and 'i's around. Now I know it is not as simple as that, but if you haven't been brought up poking fun at New Zealanders and the way they say 'fesh and cheps' it is hard to imagine.

Looking forward to beating you guys in the cricket this season. :)

(Us antipodeans have to stick together)
abc   Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 05:33 GMT
Nz and aussie accents are incredibly different. Aussie accent is so nasal while Nz accent is fresh and clean.
Mi5 Mick   Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 05:58 GMT
But NZers are harder to understand with all the clipping of their syllables! And I don't mean only the f'sh 'n ch'ps, as r'ch 'n th'ck as their accents are :)
Damian   Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 07:31 GMT
Inverurue = Inverurie!!!

sad typo...sorry to all Inverurians up there!
Damian   Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 07:41 GMT
<<(Us antipodeans have to stick together)<<

Hey, yeah..I agree.....especially as so many of you guys seem to be working in bars in the UK! If he's happens to wander into this forum, I say "Hi" to Greg in a certain bar in Broughton Street, Edinburgh. What a cool patter and accent that guy has ;-)

<<Looking forward to beating you guys in the cricket this season. :) >>

Sorry, Svalovec....as a Scot I'm not into that slow, boring game...we leave it to those guys south to the border. How the hell do they think up those weird terms? Silly mid off? Silly mid on? Caught in the slips? What do they mean when they say they bowl a maiden over? Poor lassie! I hope you win anyway! ;-)
vn23   Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 12:15 GMT
Well I do know that people from Britain find me a lot easier to understand than my friends from Auckland, I'm not sure why... something to do with vowels and that the Aucklanders talk too fast and nasally.

Another thing the NZ accent is known for is we have an intonation that has a sharp rise at the end of the sentence, it throws a lot of foreigners off. I've noticed (ignoring vowels) our accent sounds a lot more English if this rise is flattened out!

I've also been told by americans when we say 'no' there are about three vowels in it, something like naoe (sorry I don't do phonetics).
Ben   Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 13:22 GMT
As an American I find Australians FAR easier to understand than New Zealanders. Both accents, however, are completely outdone in terms of incomprehensibility by the South Africans.

To me, many Aussies seem to have a "heavier" accent than NZ. Again, this is just my generalization, but they seem to speak a bit more slowly and deliberately, almost with the timbre of Americans. New Zealanders, as someone said before, have a more "clipped" quality to their speech.