How to speak Kiwi
Australian travel writer Ben Groundwater has a tough time understanding our accent.
There's a dark secret that most Australians carry around with them, a piece of knowledge that's stored away and rarely revealed. And that dark secret is this: we actually like the Kiwis.
Not just like them - this writer, at least, kinda loves them. Forget the forced sibling rivalry; most Kiwis are open, friendly, genuine people who'll always go out of their way to help you, particularly when you're a guest in their fine land. From driving directions to drinking buddies, there's usually someone on hand to assist.
Only trouble is, you can't really understand what they're saying.
"You got a chully bun bro? Choice, eh? You need your jandals too though, eh?"
Um, huh? It's English alright - only, it's Kiwi English. And sometimes the language can vary wildly from the broad 'Strayan we speak over here. So, in the interest of Trans-Tasman relationships, of making New Zealand-born friends and knowing what they're on about the whole time, here's a guide to slang when visiting our favourite neighbours.
Used as a noun rather than the more familiar adjective form. "Oh, you're over from Aussie eh bro?" This can be confusing, given we don't refer to their country as "Kiwi". Kiwiland, yes. But not Kiwi.
Bach (or crib)
The name given to a small and often quite modest holiday home, usually situated in the mountains or by the coast. It should be noted that bach is pronounced "batch", rather than like the German composer, and that "crib" sounds a lot less gangster when coming from a Kiwi.
Like the equivalent Australian term of "mate", "bro" can be applied to all manner of people, with the difference in meaning only distinguishable by tone. There's "good to see you bro", which should be taken as a friendly greeting. Then there's, "What are you lookin' at bro?", which should be taken as advice to not look at whatever it is you're looking at.
Not, as you might imagine, a bread roll filled with cheese. And it's not the name of a snowboarding trick. No, a cheese roll is a quirk of the very south of New Zealand, a slice of bread that's slathered with a mix of grated cheese, onion soup powder and evaporated milk, rolled into a cylinder and then toasted under a grill. The result is both fatty and delicious.
Essentially it's an Esky. Actually in every respect it's an Esky. The only reason we can think that it's not called an Esky is that Esky is not the dominant brand of Esky in New Zealand, and therefore the locals had to come up with something far more imaginative. Of particular amusement for Australians is when one puts a "Snuckers in the chully bun".
Used as an acceptable replacement for the following words: good, excellent, great, agreeable, fantastic, fine, lovely, awesome, decent, suitable, pleasant, amazing, remarkable, splendid, grand, tremendous, and astounding. "Choice, eh?"
Kiwi slang for a corner store, sometimes referred to as a "corner dairy". This obviously dates back from times when corner stores would produce their own milk in New Zealand, although we're assured that that stopped happening at least three or four years ago.
Fush and chups
The chances of you actually hearing this famous Kiwi phrase are actually fairly slim, unless you spend all day hanging around fish and chip shops. And most Kiwi accents aren't even strong enough to make it funny. Plus, gleefully asking your new Trans-Tasman friends to say "fush and chups" will make you about as popular as underarm bowling.
The Kiwi term for thongs, or flip-flops, thought to be a shortening of "Japanese sandals", which makes sense when you think about it. I guess. Keep an ear out for the phrase "giving it the full jandal", which means planting your foot on the accelerator of a car, or just generally giving it everything.
A meringue-and-cream-based dessert that New Zealanders seem to think they invented. Whatever. Just let them have it.
Some sort of rugby player and/or deity. We can't be absolutely certain. What is certain, however, is that if you insult this McCaw character, perhaps by calling his good sportsmanship into question, or insinuating that he may be world rugby's most successful cheat, or accidentally kneeing him in the head while he's lying on the ground, you'd better get yourself out of the country, pronto.
Like "choice", this can substitute any words of agreement or satisfaction. For example: "How are you today bro?" "Oh, I'm sweet as, eh?"
Not to be confused with a "Contiki tour" which is a shared Australian and New Zealand ritual of getting drunk while seeing Europe, a "tiki tour" is a catch-all phrase for the round-about way of getting somewhere. As in, the scenic route. So, "Are we doing a tiki tour?" is something you might ask your taxi driver.
The West Island
Hilarious local sarcasm for the country otherwise known as Australia, or Aussie. This tongue-in-cheek term is probably a nod to the fact that there are nearly as many New Zealanders living on the West Island as there are on the North or South Islands.
Apparently a place that's pretty close to whoop-whoop. As in, the back of beyond. Out in the sticks. Beyond the black stump. In New Zealand this could count for pretty much anything outside of Auckland.
What do you think? Are we hard to understand? Or do you think the Aussies are worse? Leave a comment.