Cuppa tea, love?

When I first arrived in New Zealand, I had such big drawl that people had trouble understanding me. No one had ever heard anything like it.

I was surprised, since there’s so much America on telly.

I talked too slowly. And I had a nasty habit of pronouncing the “r” at the end of a word, like dollar. Kiwis say, dol-lah.

I’ve tried to stay true to my accent. Besides, I'm a horrible mimic.

And I don’t want to be like my mother’s cousin, who went to England and came back to Ohio with a British accent. So pretentious!

But I guess, after six or seven years in New Zealand, it’s not too affected to use a few local idioms and colloquial phrases.

Here are a few things that I find myself saying:
  1. Yeah, no. This all-purpose goodie is used to answer questions. It’s a non-committal way of agreeing or disagreeing with someone. Kiwis love to use lots of words when just one will do.
  2. Mate. I usually only call kids “mate.” It still feels weird to call a friend “mate.” But I love it when my friends call me mate. So affirming and chummy, in a colonial sort of way.
  3. Cuppa. Even with a Starbucks on every corner, there is a serious lack of hot drinks in American culture. It’s so civilized to be having a cuppa at all times of the day. Every time I get home or someone pops in, I put the kettle on. And electric kettles? So much better than boiling water in the microwave.
  4. Tea. Another word for dinner. Okay, I admit it. I feel a bit silly when I ask, “What’s for tea?”
  5. Tomato sauce. The Kiwi version of ketchup. I try to say toe-may-toe, but sometimes toe-mah-toe slips out.

That’s right. I’m still all Ohio, with maybe just a little Kiwi polish.

The amazing electric kettle.


Olga said...

I think it's hard not to get accustomed to the turns of phrases in your own neck of the woods, regardless of where you've come from. Even when it's just a city away, there are certain things people say in your new town that people don't say in your old town. Moving from Ohio all the way to New Zealand, it's just twice as easy to tell the difference between the old and the new vernacular. :) And I'm sure your husband thinks it's endearing that you've picked up the local lingo!

MrsDesperate said...

I am getting to love all the Kiwi pronunciations and phrases. My son now says: "Sweet as" and "jandals" like a pro. My daughter's favourite Kiwi phrase is "fluffy" as in a milky drink for kids. In Australia, the drink is a babycino, and a fluffy is a polite kiddie way of saying 'fart'. As in "I did a fluffy." She still cracks up whenever she orders one!

Juli said...

I actually like the Australian accent better. Don't tell my husband! LMAO about the fluffy.

milliemirepoix said...

I just came across your blog and as an American of Kiwi descent now living in Wellington (what a mouthful!), I can totally relate to so many things you've written about - and here I was thinking I was the only one!

And I didn't even realise that the "yeah, no" was a Kiwi-ism until reading this and having a think about it - and coming to the conclusion that I have never heard it in the States! Well spotted on that one.