Friday, April 11, 2008


Kiwi English is kind of a foreign language.

It's fine when standing together and talking with someone, but over the phone it's just a stream of unrecognizable syllables.

The other day I got directions to the leasing agent's office, and the guy said the street name so fast I had to ask him to repeat it. I couldn't make out anything. He said it again and it sounded exactly the same and I still couldn't make out anything so I wrote it down phonetically in my notebook (I carry a tiny notebook everywhere and I scrawl phone numbers, addresses, names of shops, etc as I figure stuff out or get advice) and I wrote down "KUH-FADDA-FADDA".

When I got into a cab with the family 30 minutes later, the cab driver was trying to work out where we were going, and so I tried describing the route that he gave me on the phone but the cabbie was having his own english-barrier issues. Finally I took a chance and said "33 KUH-FADDA-FADDA." I could see something click for him and he said, "Oh. Ok, no problem." and put the car in gear. Turns out the street is called "Kaiwharawhara." It's a Maori name. In Maori pronunciation, 'wh' is pronounced like 'f' and 'r' is somehwere between an 'r' and a 'd' (it's kind of a single-rolled r.)


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