Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Overheard on a Bus

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  • Jen Hay,

    Stephen wrote:

    Any word on the phenomenon of pronouncing a distinct final "r"? I've noticed that a lot in the last 5 years or so, mostly among young Polynesians but also more generally.

    Yes, that's been documented. Mainly in the North, and mainly in young speakers of Maori and Pasifika English.

    Lyndon wrote:

    I'm guess, but I'm not sure it's not being able to distinguish so much as not bother - a change in pronunciation rather than phonetic capability

    The change in pronunciation comes first - but for people who have the merger, they genuinely feel they can't hear the difference between the vowels. (though experiments show that - at some level - they actually still can).

    And yes - there's a clear social class element - the merger has always been most advanced for 'working class' speakers. But by now it's pretty much spread throughout society & isn't a class marker for young people.

    Lucy wrote:

    Well, I must be bucking a trend - I'm twenty-one and pronounce near and square quite differently

    I'm surprised! Do you also pronounce 'bear' and 'bare' differently?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    I'm surprised! Do you also pronounce 'bear' and 'bare' differently?

    Uh-oh, now I'm confused... I thought bear/bare are long-time old people (like me) homophones, and bear/beer is the new one that gets fuddy-duddies upset?

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 791 posts Report Reply

  • daleaway,

    RP is pretty well what I remember from my New Zealand youth - with a twang, but not the exaggerated air/ear/here confusion we hear today. Listen to the recordings of New Zealanders sending home greetings from World War II and you will hear how far our accent has travelled.

    I call it the hairdresser vowel because it seemed to go on record in the 1970s when salons suddenly stopped being called Connor's Coiffure (and similar) and started being called Hair and There, Hairsay, Hairabouts, etc .

    As for that pig-ugly final r you mention, it's endemic amongst certain TV presenters, Mark Sainsbury being one. "Now available" becomes "Nau Ravailable". They cannot pronounce a final W for money. Puckering practice needed.

    Since Jul 2007 • 178 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    It's a common misconception that shearing isn't a very well-paid gig; quite the opposite, it's big money.

    It's good money until you're in your mid-thirties, at which point your shoulder, back and legs are probably buggered. It's a young man's game and unless you go into contracting, one without much of a career path. There's big money in contracting, but you're obviously getting more out of it than the people who work for you, the actual shearers. I'm often boggled by how the media seems to miss that there's a hierarchy in rural work just as there is in urban work, and asking Fiona Elworthy how 'the rural sector' feels about something is about as useful as asking a managing director how his Otara factory workers are getting on.

    Disclaimer: my brother is a shearer, and has quite a different accent from my mother and myself. And would have said 'different to' just then.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    But I find just as annoying people who pretend to be something they're not through the way they talk.

    Can you put your finger on why? It's not like people don't do that in other ways with their dress, facial expressions or basically any other mode of communication on offer.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Also, it occurs to me.... as two words that were previously not homophones begin to merge into them.... such as beer/bear...

    Perhaps the "local ear" by which I mean, other speakers of the same dialect... can continue to detect minute differences long after non-locals have lost the ability to differentiate between which word is meant by the speaker? ie, you need to be familiar with an accent to detect all its minute details?

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 791 posts Report Reply

  • Jen Hay,

    As for that pig-ugly final r you mention, it's endemic amongst certain TV presenters, Mark Sainsbury being one. "Now available" becomes "Nau Ravailable". They cannot pronounce a final W for money. Puckering practice needed.

    Oh no - that's a different /r/ - my favourite!! Intrusive /r/. Like most NZers have in - 'ma-r-and pa', 'draw-r-and sketch', 'vienna-r-and-berlin'.

    It's not a 'final r' - it only occurs between vowels, so only turns up when the next word begins with a vowel. Much to my delight, it's extended to a new environment - after the vowel in 'now', 'how', 'plough' etc. There are good reasons for this, and it rocks. I'm building my entire career on it :)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    on the day my parents migrated here, they had a conversation in which they thought they heard the other person say "oh, so you've come here to die."

    It's often remarked that foreigners' first impression of NZ is being asked to go to the chicken counter.

    I find just as annoying people who pretend to be something they're not through the way they talk.

    Everybody tends to adapt their language - in the broad 'speech pattern' sense - to the person they're talking to, at least if they're trying to be friendly (my wife did a project on this with gender language styles). People will overcompensate, especially (I think) If the gap is big. I remember Bill Ralston in his nightline days used to revel in Jim Bolger striving to adopt the accent of visiting dignitaries.

    There again, I'm sure it can be quite painful if it's deliberate, too.

    Because we pronounce 'surely' and 'shirley' differently... at least, I thought we did

    Quite. I just couldn't help myself.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1095 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Ackroyd,

    In many US dialects they have a LOT-THOUGHT merger, i.e. they pronounce the words 'cot' and 'caught' as if they were homophones.

    So how do you pronounce "hawt"?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    my dad would vehemently insist that tyranosaurus was pronounced tyro-nossorus.

    I knew a guy who preferred to pronounce oxymoron "ok-simmaron", presumably because he thought a serious word couldn't possibly end in "moron". Etymologists will, of course, know that the "moron" in "oxymoron" comes from the same Greek word (meaning "dull") from which we get "moron"...

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    So how do you pronounce "hawt"?

    Or, for that matter, "kewl"?

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    shearing

    In the grand tradition of screwy names for hairdressers, there is one such establishment located in the Valley Rd. (Mt. Eden) shopping precinct, which goes by the unlikely moniker, The Sharing Shed (sic).

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Ackroyd,

    PS.
    Funny. From Urban Dictionary:

    Hawt
    (Adj.) Irresistably secksy. It's like, hot multiplied by infinity.
    Omgsohawt~

    "Ghey boiz r hawt! Teehee."
    "HAWT! Omg do me."

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Can you put your finger on why? It's not like people don't do that in other ways with their dress, facial expressions or basically any other mode of communication on offer.

    1. I don't like the fake element. If we have to pretend to be something different from who we are to get on with someone in society, then we're not doing very well.
    2. The kiwi accent is largely liked (or in some places, loved) around the world. Except some people in NZ think it's improper or not good enough. It's just cultural cringe.

    I don't mind talking differently for different situations, that's sensible. But I do wonder what the Maori half of the conversation must have thought when the 'honky' went back to his friends and suddenly remembered how to talk 'properly'. I suspect insulted might be one reaction.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6162 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    How does everyone pronounce Subaru?

    When I was young I only heard "Sue-bar-ru'. Now everyone seems to call it 'Sooba-roo'. Is one more correct from the Japanese?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6162 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Pretending to be something different from who we are to get on with someone in society is a good strategy. It means we are less likely to have our ideas rejected as something coming from "other". For example, concern trolls use the technique very effectively.

    OTOH, it imposes a cost on the listener, who has to work harder to decide whether someone's one of them or not, and may get it wrong. I think that's why it annoys people - it messes with the rules we use for making social interaction easy.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 791 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    I'm surprised! Do you also pronounce 'bear' and 'bare' differently?

    Nope, those are the same. I can, however, distinguish between a beer and a bear.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    I don't mind talking differently for different situations, that's sensible. But I do wonder what the Maori half of the conversation must have thought when the 'honky' went back to his friends and suddenly remembered how to talk 'properly'. I suspect insulted might be one reaction.

    I think the main thing that makes putting a different face/voice/dress on weird or irritating is when it becomes needy rather than just friendly, particularly when it's obviously not natural. Pleading for inclusion or trying to achieve a desired result, rather than just going with the flow, perhaps? That certainly annoys me, but the question of why is still kind of interesting.

    That's the major thing that pisses me off about bad salespeople, actually. You can tell all the friendly stuff is forced, which is what makes it repugnant.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    It's often remarked that foreigners' first impression of NZ is being asked to go to the chicken counter.

    I flogged the "Near Whizzy Air" example (Now is the Hour) from an ancient book called New Zild & how she is spoke.

    The other memorable example denotes the first thing many visitors to New Zild hear as they disembark & negotiate Customs:

    "Wodger chocolate eclair?"

    Since Nov 2006 • 2073 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    Oh, and I'm reminded of a Glaswegian boss of mine, who returned from a trip home & told us that the current fashion in the UK (circa 1990) was to where "turnips" on the trousers.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2073 posts Report Reply

  • daleaway,

    I'd rather, on the whole, that tradespeople or service people or anyone having business dealings with me "forced" themselves to be friendly. The effort would be appreciated.

    I see no virtue in their displaying their unvarnished natural rudeness or antipathy or aggression, however genuine. Better a faked polite than an unforced impolite. And I'll do the same for them.

    Since Jul 2007 • 178 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    Feck. ...Wear...

    Since Nov 2006 • 2073 posts Report Reply

  • Jen Hay,

    Nope, those are the same. I can, however, distinguish between a beer and a bear.

    Very handy skill.

    Most of the young people we've recorded who make some distinction between hear and hair, or fear and fare, don't tend to distinguish between beer and bear. I.e. they've learned the distinction from spelling rather than 'natively', and it breaks down where the spelling doesn't line up with the pronunciation exactly.

    So - yes - it seems you do indeed buck the trend!

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    In Ozzie, I applied for ben@isp.com.au for my email and got bin@isp.com.au....chairs ozzie ISP phone chuck.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8316 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I flogged the "Near Whizzy Air" example (Now is the Hour) from an ancient book called New Zild & how she is spoke.

    I have that. And the companion volume, Let Stalk Strine.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

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