Kiwis' love of slang is munted

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 05:00 01/06/2014

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A new study is getting into the guts of the protracted death of good old Kiwi slang.

Victoria University honours student Christopher Watson said Kiwis used less slang and colloquialisms than their Aussie counterparts and if the use of this colourful language continues to dwindle some words could kick the bucket altogether.

Watson decided to base his honours project on the deterioration of the use of slang after he returned to New Zealand after 17 years in Australia to find many of New Zealand's colourful slang words and colloquialisms were no longer being used.

Australia had national slang that was still used by all age groups, he said, adding that phrases like "you bloody beauty" were used every day across the ditch.

In New Zealand people knew about slang words and colloquialisms but hardly ever used them.

Watson said slang had always interested him but little was known about it.

There was a lot of colour in Kiwi English and a lot of "national character" in slang words, he said.

Slang held emotion and had been described as "the poetry of the street," he said.

Australians used slang and offensive language every day, even in the workplace, Watson said.

"Kiwis are more reserved and more polite. Slang is seen as a bit brash and forward, and Kiwis don't like to be forward."

Watson said the decline in the use of Kiwi slang could also be put down to changing social attitudes or the standardisation of the education system.

Hopefully, the extent of declining use of slang and colloquialisms and the reasons behind it would become clearer once the results came in, he said.

Watson expected there would be variation in recognition and usage of the almost 100 terms between age groups, regions and occupational groups.

Different age groups, occupational groups and regions would have different slang.

However, there was a risk of some of the older terms becoming extinct, he said.

TOP FIVE KIWI-ISMS

Munted: Wrecked or damaged

Mozzie: Mosquito

Dunger: A worn-out machine

Sweet as: Great or fine

Huckery: Ugly

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