Friday, September 11, 2009

How's this for a big deck?

In order to be understood here, I have discovered I need to open my mouth wide and scrunch my face and say 'ass' not 'arse' (not that I have needed to say either of those words - just demonstrating the letter 'a', you understand). So I found myself saying pathway, not parthway yesterday. And ah-some, not oar-some. And apparently a New Zealander's 'i' and 'e' sound very similar, which can be problematic.

Pam, my landlady at the College Green House, suggested I might like to talk about a balcony or a porch rather than use the New Zealand term 'deck', especially when referring to someone having a big one because there may be some confusion over my pronunciation (I'll pause here to allow you to think about this carefully).

I told this story in the van on the way back from a dinner function at the Levitt Centre and all of the other IWP participants rolled around laughing. Now they keep prompting me to say 'deck'. Our driver and coordinator of all sorts of vital activites, Joe, was very quiet during this conversation. However, after everyone else had been dropped home, he said very calmly, 'To the right is the home of another IWP person who will probably host a party soon. He has a very big deck on his ute. I think you should ask him about it, Kathy.'

Ha, ha, ha. When hell freezes over.

I suspect I'm going to americanise my vowels quite quickly. But I'm sure all of you will set me right when I return.

1 comment:

  1. I had a good laugh reading this. As a native kiwi with an Aussie passport I have had my difficulties with Australian Language. The obvious one is the vowel I which Aussies pronounce like the Latin i (eeee) so the kiwi six, sounds like sucks to an aussie and the aussie six sounds like sex to a kiwi. I remember a Queenslander telling me that the weather was weeeendy and not having a clue that he meant windy. And then there is Fush and Chups for Fish and Chips. You don't dare buy them here, they are not a cheap meal! But language is so subtle, its delightful, I can now recognise Victorian's by the way they they say build and the upper class can almost tell what school they came from. Wee was a common word in my family with its Scottish roots but it is rarely heard in Australia. Wee timorous cowering beastie, how could I ever forget these lines from Coleridge's "Ode to a Fieldmouse" from my schoodays far away. I will finish my Saturday night ramble telling you about Charles MacLean's "Island on the Edge of the World" about the rugged Scottish Island, St Kilda and its crag scaling, birds nesting inhabitants, who clung to their ancient ways well into the Twentieth Century. I found this book quite by accident, it is delightfully written with quaint gaelic word plays and a must for anyone with an appreciation of language and where it came from. And how our forebears survived in such a hostile climate, their democracy, no need for policemen on St Kilda (Hirta)