Wednesday, September 15, 2010

american-kiwi dictionary

There are as many versions of the English language as there are countries that claim to speak it. As the Kiwi version of the English language is much more British than the American version, I will humbly admit that their take on my native tongue is probably more faithful to the original. We've been here for 4 months, but some of the sayings here still sound quite strange to my ears. I'm still not used to how they say that something is "different to" something else (rather than "different from" - for example, "The way Kiwis talk is different to the way Americans speak.") Maria, parroting her Kiwi teachers, is now asking to use "cella tape" to hang things up - I always pause before I realize she wants Scotch tape. Redheads are called "gingers" here (pronounced with a hard G as in "goat": Ging-ehr). Gingers are mercilessly teased and are the butt of unending jokes. And while I am used to all units of measurements being unfamiliar - kilograms, kilometers, liters, and Celsius - still, it was a shock to step on the scale at my last midwife visit and see that my weight was being offered in both kilograms and STONE. I weigh 8 stone! I could not get over the hilarity. 

Then there are whole genres of unfamiliar terms. Especially related to eating.
 Food Dictionary:
American term - Kiwi term
grocery cart or buggy = trolley
ground beef = mince
shrimp = prawns
cookies = biscuits
sweet potato = kumara
granola = muesli
red pepper = capiscum
raisins = sultans
jelly = jell-o
jam = jelly
candy = lollies
ketchup = tomato sauce
afternoon snack = afternoon tea
 (even if no hot drinks are consumed)
yummy/yucky = yum/yuck
(this meal is yum! oh mine is yuck!)

This list could go on indefinitely. A trip to the grocery store is confusing, to say the least. It also seems like the highest word of praise that can be lavished on a meal here is that it is "nice". If you serve someone spaghetti and they exclaim, "Oh - this pasta is nice!"
you really have climbed as high in your culinary skills as you could possibly ever hope.  Don't try any of your American overstatements here about "Delicious! Fantastic! Scrumptious!" Just keep it simple and sincere. 
School lingo is different here. 
America - New Zealand
pre-school = kindie
high school = college
12th grade or senior = year 13
math = maths

Ditto for all things baby/children.
prenatal = antenatal
stroller = pram
whining = whinging (winj - ing)
diaper = nappy

And lastly, so as not to belabor the point, clothing.
sandals = sandals
flip-flops = jandals
sweater = jumper
bathing suit = togs

A final point, not so much an item of clothing, but an accessory -
worn by travelers - a small pouch strapped about the waist -
the pouch rests either in front or behind the wearer....
I cannot write the American term for this item
because it is SO highly offensive here -
suffice to say that if you travel Down Under, don't forget your...
bum bag.