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Monday, November 13, 2006

Kiwi-English Dictionary

Haha, not that Kiwis don't speak English, but if you don't know some of their colloquialisms and vocabulary, you might be a little lost. So I've come up with this guide to explain what I've heard so far and what I think it means, although by no means is this a definitive list. I have started using a few of these phrases myself, they're quite catchy, but I've not used all of them. Also, I definitely don't have (and probably never will) a Kiwi accent, and some of these things just don't sound right unless spoken with the true Kiwi flourish.

So here is some bona fide Kiwi slang, in no particular order, served up with a generous helping of pavlova and a side of whitebait. Enjoy!

See also!

Kiwi-English Dictionary, Collegiate Edition

Kiwi-English Dictionary 3: In 3-D!

Kiwi-English Dictionary 4: The Final Chapter of The Return of the Dream Master

gobsmacked - Shocked, taken by surprise. Can be in either a good or bad way; British term originally.

gutted - Dejected, depressed. "When the All-Blacks lost to England, I was just gutted."

greedy guts - Like it sounds, someone or something (like a hungry pet) that's a 'greedy guts' just can't seem to get enough, usually in reference to food.

crook - In a very bad way, health-wise. "Do you want to see that Rottweiler first instead? He's crook."

amped - Excited, psyched, pumped, stoked. "Man, I'm so amped to see Tool next January!"

on to it - On the ball, plugged in, hip.

tramp - Hike, noun or verb.

tomato sauce - What we call ketchup, or catsup (although who ever says "Please pass the catsup"?!? Mid-westerners, probably.)

bangers - Sausages. Often heard with mash, or potatoes. "Bangers and mash for dinner, guv'na!"

partner (q.v. my previous posting) - Significant other; more important than a boyfriend/girlfriend but less so than a fiance/fiancee. Or perhaps more than the latter but less than a spouse, I really dunno. Many couples in NZ don't marry but rather form 'partnerships'.

whinge - To whine. Not a good way to earn points; in fact, whinging just makes others lose respect for you here. Rapidly. No room for whinging or self-pity when those first settlers came over in the 19th century to tame the land!

no worries - Probably Aussie in origin, but I really don't know. I think everybody is most familiar with this phrase and it thus needs no explanation, so no worries.

back in a mo' - Definitely British in origin but I hear it from time to time, "mo'" being short for "moment". Kinda gay, so I haven't used this one.

ratbag - This one cracks me up. It seems to be a sort of endearing little insult, and I've only heard it used in reference to animals. Usually a mischievous one, or possibly a scraggly one. "Oh, you're just a little ratbag, aren't you?"

bach - Pronounced "batch", refers to a Kiwi vacation home, what we yanks would call a 'time-share' or 'summer home'. Apparently on the south island instead of bach they say 'crib', which I find quite funny given the gangsta overtones, but I never once heard a south islander talk about 'cribs', yo.

pakeha - Maori term for all non-Maori of European descent. Used to be considered derogatory (and still is by some), kind of like being called 'whitey' but is now pretty widely used as a neutral term.

lollies - Candies, and not just hard candies as the name may imply.

takeaway - To-go, or take-home food. I sound like such a yank when I ask for something 'to go' and am desperately trying to learn to say 'takeaway' instead. They'll ask, "Is that for here, or takeaway?" and I'll blurt out, before I can think, "To-go, please!" There's always that awkward pause as they try and figure out what the hell I mean, then they catch on. Can also be a noun, as in, "Takeaways again for lunch, eh?"

biscuits (or 'bikkies') - Cookies.

good on ya - Good for you. A favorite of mine, and I use it a lot. I hope I am not sounding pretentious to my friends back home when I use this, because I'm not trying to be! It's just really catchy, and to my credit I don't follow it up with the usual 'mate' uttered by most Kiwis.

mum - Mom. I like 'mum' as it sounds more endearing, so I may soon be converted on this one. Unless, of course, mom objects to it!

jandals - Flip-flops. Definitely you will be mocked if you call them 'flip-flops' here! Much like you'd be mocked for calling them 'jandals' back in the States.

taking the piss out of/taking the mickey - Giving someone a hard time, mocking. I'm a bit baffled as to the origins of this one, as it doesn't really make sense, but then again it works somehow. Often abbreviated to 'taking the piss' in which case it could refer to the one being joked upon or the joker.

dairy - Corner convenience store, like a 7-11.

judder bars - Speed bumps. Yeah, 'judder bar' just sounds perfect for those damned things.

playing up - Has many other meanings but here I think it's used to refer to when someone is cheating on someone else. "Has she been playing up Jimmy then?"

togs - Swim trunks. What I keep leaving at the gym, along with my cap and goggles. When calling back one night to ask if they could find my swim trunks (which they thankfully did, hanging on a hook in the locker room), there was an awkward pause until I explained that I left my 'togs' there.

chilly bin - A cooler, or possibly also the freezer portion of a fridge. Known as an 'esky' in Aussie. Honestly, I have yet to hear anyone say 'chilly bin', but then again BBQ season is just around the corner so I may yet hear it. Saying it is a whole other thing, though, lol.

pissing down - An excellent slang term, used to describe rainfall. Not just any rainfall, but when it's really pouring out there, which it's been doing a lot lately. Serves to describe it far better than 'cats and dogs' if you ask me. "What's the weather out there like today, Steve?" "Ah, it's pissing down." "I'm gutted."

pavlova - Kiwi dessert, yet another item created by them but apprehended by the Aussies. It's a shame that I haven't tried it yet, but it is pretty decadent. It's named after Anna Pavlova, a ballet dancer who visited Wellington in the 1930s and a chef there created this dish for her.

sweet as - Said in response to asking for something, and that request is granted by this most positive response. Also used in acknowledgement of something good. "Could you make sure to add the Rugby Channel to the lineup?" "Sweet as."

arvo - Aussie in origin, but used here quite a lot. Means 'afternoon', as in, "I'll see you Thursday arvo, 2-ish."

good as gold - Like it sounds, and I've heard it said in the US, though not for a long time. Interchangeable with ...

box of birds - "So, how's little Monty been since he's been home?" "Oh, box of birds, mate. He's good as gold now." "Sweet as."

whitebait - It's a, um, 'delicacy' that some Kiwis prefer, though I don't think you'll find me going native on this one anytime soon. It's a small fish that is in its juvenile stage, akin to eating a soft-shelled crab. This is a bit hypocritical of me, considering I'll eat those tiny fish out of those tins - bones and all. But I've seen pictures of these little things, and I'm sorry but I don't like to eat anything with its eyes intact!


Blogger Beechball * said...

haha, yeah it's a little disturbing when your dinner looks back at you isn't it! lol I have an issue with things that SWIM... I just assume they're all slimey and I just don't wanna put that crap in my mouth... blech! But I've never tried most fish, any crab, shrimp or lobster - I will NEVER eat shark fin, eel, squid or octopus - that is SOOOO nasty wrong wrong wrong! *so gonna vom just thinking about it! lol Thanks for the lesson, good stuff!

10:31 AM  
Blogger Brooksie said...

I hear ya on some of the seafood there Lyndsay. I used to love shrimp until I helped a friend 'de-vein' them before then cooking and eating them. Yecch. Let's just say, that ain't no proper 'vein'!!! So I avoid shrimp now, as well as lobster and crabs - these are all basically giant underwater bugs (like cockroaches!) so sometimes a little bit of knowledge is too much. But eel.... one of my very favorite things is unagi (Japanese for eel) in a sushi restaurant! I gather you won't be converting to that one anytime soon lol.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Beechball * said...

I don't think so... sorry. I'll have some rice, but that's about it! :P

1:53 PM  

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