Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Zealand

Our son is very excited because in March, he and his beloved are off to Nelson in New Zealand for their elective – two months which can be spent working in a hospital anywhere in the world. They were very keen to go to New Zealand and made the arrangements at the very first opportunity, which was more than a year ago. His bedroom walls are covered with maps of NZ, he has lots of books about the country and for some months now, he’s been bursting from time to time into what may possibly not be an authentic NZ accent. “Alright, mate?”, “Good as gold!” and “Sweet!” echo round the house as he goes about his business.

He’s been encouraged in this linguistic getting-into-the-mood by an information sheet sent by some wag at the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, which gives lots of helpful translations of descriptions that patients might give of their illnesses.

Here's an extract:
“The next group of adjectives imply that the patient is particularly tired or weak as the result of an illness, typically influenza, gastroenteritis, myocardial infarction:
wrung out
not firing on all cylinders
If a New Zealander vomits, he may say that he is about to chunder, yak, spew, hurl or ralph.
When a New Zealand patient recovers from an illness they may say that they have perked up and are raring to go, hunky dory, beaut, a box of birds, good as gold or sweet as.
The ultimate New Zealand sign of gratitude is expressed when the patient says, “Good on ya mate!” When a strange man calls you “mate” it is either a sign that he is open to friendship or that he has forgotten your name. If someone yells, “Oh, maaaa…te!” in a crowd then it is likely that another man has broken wind. If someone says, “Maaaa…te” without the “Oh” in front, and they have a concerned look on their face, it is an expression of sympathy.”

The handout ends:
“Here is a little test to check how much of this dictionary you have taken in. Please read the following scene and answer the questions at the end:
Patient: Gidday doc.
Doctor: Derek, how are you, mate?
Patient: I think I’ve got a problem with the old plumbing. I’m up and down all night and bugger all comes out each time.
Doctor: Maaaa…te! Giving ya gip after each slash?
Patient: No, good as gold, mate, good as gold.
Doctor: You firing on all cylinders in other ways?
Patient: Well, me and the Mrs both had the dreaded lurgy last week but she’s now a box of birds and I’ve perked up. Do you think the old fella’s on the blink, Doc?
What condition does the patient have?
a) psitticosis
b) a blocked drain on his toilet
c) influenza
d) a paraphymosis
e) benign prostatic hypertrophy.”
Well, now my lad is all set to talk the language of this distant land. Possibly.
He says that the answer is e), by the way.


  1. I had no trouble following that dialogue, given Australia's proximity to New Zealand, and correctly diagnosed that man's condition. Maybe I could become a dcotor over there too?

    Another helpful tip is knowing that New Zealanders or Kiwis as we like to call them say "uh" for the short i sound; as in fush and chups for fish and chips and and sux instead of six.

  2. Oh we are a funny lot! Can remember when in Scotland asking for a pen and someone thought I wanted a pin! Believe it or not I spoke with a Scottish accent until I was about six. Kids at school used to like me telling stories so they could listen to how I talked.

    I'm sure your son will love his time in NZ!

  3. I got the diagnosis right too! Daughter had hysterics. NZ. Beautiful. He will love it. And you will HAVE to visit! I will email you the name of the doctor we know in Nelson. He is great.

  4. Brilliant stuff! Can I suggest that when your son comes home again, he can compile a Scottish-New Zealand dictionary? I for one would pay good money for that!

  5. So Ralph probably isn't a very popular boy's name there then?

    Hope he has a great time, NZ is fab!

  6. Sounds just like Australian to me, but that figures, seeing New Zealand is one of our states...(waiting to be hung, drawn and quartered by any Kiwis reading this)

  7. How fun! Both the pending trip and the quiz. (BTW, I got the right answer, although my smart aleck choice was the one about the toilet LOL) Are you going to go and visit while he's there? My youngest (the non-Drwannabe) is off to Sydney for a semester in mid-February. He's talked about possibly doing a NZ stopover on the way home. I SO want to go visit him while he's there -- just can't quite figure it out yet! A very fun post Isabelle -- I'm sure your son will love it there.

  8. That is so funny! I'm sure he'll have a great time in NZ.

  9. Your boy is in for fun times! I made many bloopers myself when I first came to this country.

  10. All he has to know is to say "ay" after everything and that all new zillanders worship the Oll Blicks.

    its fuscinatung, thus new zilland lingo, ay?

  11. oh, and if there is time in sydney at any point I insist on showing them around.....

  12. You may be interested in this poxy little piece of trivia...

    New Zealand was settled mostly by Scots people.

    This accounts for their twist on pronunciation as from the Australians, who were settled mainly by the English.

    If he gets homesick, he can take himself off to Dunedin, where he will find a piece of Scotland, just waiting for him.

    He will have a blast, NZ is the most beautiful country.

    Just tell him to stay away from the sheep. It could be someone's girlfriend.

  13. This is marvelous, so colorful and exaggerated it could almost be satire.

  14. I am terribly smug that I figured out the answer is e all by myself. How wonderful that they're getting to travel together! That sort of thing is such a great life experience.

  15. I figured the answer out but I was tempted to answer (a) on the grounds that someone was taking the piss out of him (making fun of him).

    I hope they have a terrific time in NZ.

  16. Doesn't he look all sweet and smiley and clean-cut? Awwwwww.

    *dodges before brotherly frown zaps her*

    I don't really understand why Scottish ancestry would cause the New Zealand Vowel Shift... but I'll take the experts' word for it!

  17. 'E' was my guess too. Perhaps I could be a doctor as well :)
    It helps to grow up in Oz, of course..and speak the lanquage :)
    You can tell the difference between an Aussie and NZ accent by the way they say 'water'.
    Your son is handsom, and yes, sweet, smiley and clean-cut :)
    I hope they have a fabulous time!
    Happy 2008 to you and yours!

  18. Sounds like our children wil cross paths somewhere over the ocean!

  19. Good on ya Isabelle! You made a fair dinkum fist of that!

    I'm off now to apply for medicine ... or maybe linguistics?

    What WILL the catlets do without him?

  20. That's hilarious! One word of advice, though - he's far too young to use "Good as gold". That's something an old guy would say. Stick with "Sweet as". Or, if you're feeling friendly, "Sweet as, bro/cuz".
    Nelson is beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

  21. hi Isabelle,
    thanks for the good wishes. I can walk with a walking frame now, but not yet unsupervbised, Mostly still in the wheelchair. Butthins are improving every day, I now go to the toilet by myself. The nurses get quite hysr=terical because I am supposed to be supervises, but who can wait long enough for someone to be free? I hope ypur son will understand if someone asks gim does he want fush and chuos!

  22. As a Kiwi, I say to your son, he will be made most welcome, he will be teased for his accent, & I am sure he will enjoy every moment of his time in Nelson. It is very beautiful.