Quakes munt language, too

HANNAH DENTON
Last updated 07:41 17/06/2012

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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The Christchurch earthquakes have not only changed the Canterbury landscape, they "munted" the way we speak.

New Zealand Dictionary Centre director Jane Bardsley said several words, including "munted", "majorly munted" and "mega munt", had all been added to the dictionary in the wake of the natural disasters. They had become part of everyday speech rather than being restricted to youth slang, she said.

TV weatherman Jim Hickey used munted to describe a car crushed by bricks, and its popularity was underlined by a simple Google search linking it with earthquake, which returns 80 million hits.

Commemorative T-shirts featured the word, and the dictionary defined it as used to describe severe levels of damage in the earthquakes, and as being used in place of stronger language in the same context.

Bardsley said Kiwis often adopted new words in times of upheaval. She said the New Zealand Dictionary database, which has more than 40,000 words or phrases, was a resource to capture trends within Kiwi speech. 

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