OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Brain Drain Et Cetera

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  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Ben Austin,

    Linguistically and culturally NZers can identify with these larger, more exciting, sometimes richer member states and sometimes easily immigrate.

    And from past precedent, NZers moving to Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane/Perth seem to fill in for Aussies who've moved to even bigger cities like London or NYC or LAX.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5312 posts Report Reply

  • Hans Versluys, in reply to Ben Austin,

    I wouldn't call it "immigrating" or "emigrating" if you're going to a country that has your mother tongue. Real immigrants learn a different language.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2011 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Hans Versluys,

    Now that's an interesting point, Hans. When I went to England, I thought it would be all tickety boo because, as you say, they spoke the same lingo. Except that they didn't. They had a different sense of humour, their accents were, though fascinating, often hard to decipher. When I lived in Switzerland, and had to really up my game with regards to my standard of spoken French, at least I knew I was going to have to speak a different language, day in, day out.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    Jackie, I tautoko that point of view-

    the first overseas country I went to was Hawai’i.
    That’s when I learned that other Anglophonic people think we speak waaay too fast; that saying ‘whakapapa’ produced a visible shudder of horror through the -mainly (but definitely not wholly)- white audience, and my jokes (especially the couple of Footrot Flats ones) fell flatter than flat.

    And – while I learned to speak more slowly in public situations – I never could really understand the English & Northern American senses of humour* (or a lot of their accents – or their body language, come to that.)

    *Aussies were Not A Problem. And I had grown up with the kind of insight into
    both nations’ senses of humour provided by everything from The Goons to M*A*S*H (with lashings of Larson on the side…)
    Annnd- I could understand the Scots perfectly well, humour & body-language & quite a few of the accents (Glaswegians not so much…)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Islander,

    Oh, yes. Out in Taiyuan many years ago I had an American colleague who could hardly understand a word I said because I spoke too fast, and a Japanese colleague who could understand me just fine because she'd lived in Australia for a year and so was familiar with a similar dialect. Nowadays my accent has become so internationalised/milded that some Kiwis mistake me for a Brit, and (no offence to Brits intended, but) that hurts. But there ain't many other Kiwis around my neck of the woods - um, as in about none, although I do know of one living a few kms up the road, and there's quite a few scattered around Beijing - and work requires me to communicate easily and effectively with people from several countries, so the accent gets mild.

    And it was so nice to have my Mum here for a month recently in part because I could talk to somebody who speaks the same dialect as me, and it's amazing how relaxing that can be.

    So, yeah, "having to learn a new language" is not one of the criteria one uses to decide if one's migration, whether immi- or emi-, is real or not.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2380 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    I accept that without learning a language or absorbing a new culture, one has a pretty different immigration experience, but either are still pretty real and non trivial.

    That being said, moving to London from Wellington was pretty easy and presented little dislocation, which rather surprised me.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1009 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Ben Austin,

    That being said, moving to London from Wellington was pretty easy and presented little dislocation, which rather surprised me.

    British culture had a direct and very present influence on New Zealand culture right up until - well, the mid-twentieth century, in its most significant form, and it lingered. Plus we have a lot of British immigrants. I've only spent a short period of time in London, but I had much the same feeling; it was very easy to adapt to. Still different, but not that different.

    America has been a whole 'nother kettle of fish. I can honestly say in a lot of ways I have far more in common with my Taiwanese-Swazi labmate, with whom I share a sort of generic Commonwealth Expat culture, than a lot of Americans; I'm sure if I went to Swaziland or Taiwan, that would be different, but while we're both here we're adapting to the same things. Same language, technically, but not the same culture at all, or not when you're living there 24/7.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

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