When I first started as a writer writing primarily for the U.S. market, I assumed that because both New Zealand and the United States speak English, words and phrases that I use every day are ingrained in the American vernacular. I mean, how could America not embrace the awesomeness that is someone "spitting the dummy". Until I lost count of the number of times American friends and critique partners were bewildered by something I said or wrote that had nothing to do with my accent!
For a start apparently a dummy isn't a dummy in America - it's a pacifier!
So here are ten of my favourite “Kiwi-isms” that I think need to go international and be adopted by the rest of the world :)
Short for bachelor pad, "baches" (pronounced batches) refer to family holiday homes usually near a beach or a lake. It used to be specifically for something that was quite small and basic but now people it’s often just a house that isn’t their primary residence – even if it’s a weekend McMansion.
Something being full or overflowing. For example, "my bookcase is chocka."
If something is "dodgy" it could mean either that it is out of date or stale, or it can refer to a person who looks suspicious or unreliable. For example, “I think I ate a dodgy curry last night” or "The people outside the bar look dodgy."
The word "jandal" is an abbreviation of "Japanese sandal" or known to millions of Americans as the “flip-flop” or Australians as a “thong” (which is New Zealand is an item of lingerie).
Definition: broken or ruined. "Munted" it became an official word when Mayor Bob Parker (of Christchurch, in reference to damage caused by the Canterbury Earthquake of February 2011) told journalists “Our main sewer trunk is seriously munted. I believe that is the technical term.”
Something that is gross. For example, “My hair is really manky today.”
Spat the dummy
Refers to someone either losing their temper or having some sort of emotional meltdown. For example, “She spat the dummy when her husband had to work late again.” Also known as “lost the plot” or “the wheels fell off”.
Very pleased or excited. For example, "I was so stoked to final in the contest."
To go on a journey with no specific destination in mind, or to take a long way/scenic route to reach a destination. For example, "Let's take a tiki tour around the North Island."
Something in the middle of nowhere. For example, "She lives in the wop wops".
What about you? What are some of your favourite words or phrases that you use all the time but discover when you travel no one else knows what they are? Or some you've heard when traveling and not been able to unravel?
Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Ordinarily she loves to write romantic comedy but six weeks ago a new little person arrived in Casa de Isaac so right now she is sleep deprived and struggling to string together coherent sentences, let alone a plot. Turns out, as much as she wishes otherwise, she's not the kind of person who can type a novel with one hand while doing a 2am feeding with the other.