Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Kiwi words and phrases: give 'em a go

Planning a trip to New Zealand? If you're like us, it's going to take you a while to get used to the language. There's not only a bit of an accent to contend with, but heaps of new words.

Here's a round up of our favourites and what (we think) they mean. (If you're a Kiwi, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know if we've misinterpreted anything! Or let us go on embarrassing ourselves – it's up to you.)
  • how you going? – common Kiwi greeting
  • jandals – flip flops
  • toilet – even in a fancy restaurant, it’s perfectly appropriate to ask where the toilet is. I still have a hard time with this one.
  • wee squiz – quick look, as in “I’ll just need to take a wee squiz at your report before sending it to the boss.”
  • as you do – used when you’re joking that something out of the ordinary is actually common: “We were drinking wine out of a two-litre bottle … as you do … because we forgot to bring cups to our campsite.”
  • sorted – figured out, as in “no worries bro, it’s sorted.”
  • suss – similar to sorted, as in “I’ve got it sussed.”
  • dodgy – bad, unreliable
  • cardie -- cardigan
  • jersey -- sweater
  • jumper – also sweater
  • eh? – pronounced “ay”, to be added to the end of certain sentences whether or not you’re asking a question. “He was pretty pissed last night, eh?” or “I'll take some tomato sauce, eh.”
  • fizzy drink – soda
  • happy – this is my new favourite word that I use several times a day. As in "are you happy to meet for a drink?" "I'm happy to schedule a meeting" and "please advise if you're happy for me to proceed."
  • flat tack – full speed, as in “we were going a flat tack on the jetboat before he pulled a 360”
  • good on ya -- well done; good for you
  • heaps -- lots
  • reckon – this does not have the slightly redneck connotation it has in the States, and is perfectly appropriate to use in a professional setting: “I reckon the business requirements specification document is ready for the executive team’s review.”
  • long drop – outdoor toilet built over a hole in the ground
  • knackered – exhausted
  • right – as explained to me by a colleague: you'll hear this after there's been discussion followed by a pause, then someone sighs and says "right" with a certain amount of emphasis. It indicates "okay let's make a decision" or "okay let's get started."
  • bugger – exclamation similar to damn
  • pissed – not mad, simply drunk
  • pissing down – raining hard, pouring
  • fillet – same steak, but the “t” is no longer silent
  • ta – thanks, most commonly used for simple things such as when someone holds a door
What are your favourite Kiwi words and phrases? Tell us in the comments.


HereBeDragons said...

Don't forget the super typical:
Sweet as - cool.

And talking about the weather, it always has to be fine.
We'll go tramping if the weather's fine.

Which also brings up:
Tramp - a hike or the act of hiking (noun or verb)

Also, I get a lot of grief for using "reckon" and "heaps" now in everyday conversation since returning stateside from New Zealand...3 years ago.

jamie said...

Thanks - those are some good ones. It always makes us laugh to remember some friends from California who came to visit and started saying "sweet ass" all the time. We corrected them, and they said "well that doesn't make any sense." Exactly.

Yer Mum said...

I love the tutorial on kiwi language, very interesting how the other side of the world communicates. It may be that other phrasing is used, but I always need to take a wee squiz for my jandals, as I can never find them! This was such an interesting post!

Dave said...

Very eductational. As a construction worker I'm going with the "long drop" as a favorite. I'll try using that term at work and see where it gets me.

Juli Ryan said...

I love this post so much. And especially your comment about the "sweet ass". LOL

Also, thanks for your kind comment over at WR. xo's

Phil said...

Very interesting post indeed.

Many of the words you mention (wee, dodgy, sorted, jumper, pissed, ta) show our closeness to British rather than American usage.

The somewhat irritating "eh" at the end of a sentence, we seem to share with Canadians for some reason or other.

Your sensibility over the word "toilet" is again, very interesting to hear. I guess back home you'd ask, more euphemistically, for the restroom? Funny thing is, all the words we use for that porcelain object (lavatory, loo, wc, john, privy, and the rest ) are euphemisms. Even the word "toilet" itself derives from the French for a cloth. There's no actual word in English that describes the thing for what it is.

Gwyn Valentine said...

This is really useful! thanks!

I will be visiting NZ in sept!

Anonymous said...

Love your blog. It's making me jealous. My wife and I just moved back to KC after 2 1/2 years in Christchurch. Fortunately we moved before the earthquake. I got a good laugh at some of the terms. It took some getting used too, but we still use them now and then back here just to see how people react. Here's a couple more to add to your list:

Full on - very busy

gutted - dissappointed

over the moon - very happy

good as gold - yep, that works

car park - parking lot (easy one)