You’d think after a year and a half living here that I’d have the Kiwi accent figured out. Apparently not. I still manage to pull a blank face in conversation relatively often. See if you would have figured out these scenarios.
Kiwis don’t really use clothes driers. Not that we’re short on days when you might want one, but I guess the English don’t really use them either, so along with window screens and insulation, they’re considered unnecessary. Anyway, clothes are either dried outside on the line or hanging inside on racks, and I needed some clothes pins to follow suit. I stopped into a store looking for them, couldn’t find them, and eventually asked the clerk “Do you have any clothes pins?” Blank stare from behind the counter. “You know, those thingies you use to hang clothes on the clothes line,” I continued, pinching my fingers together as a demonstration. “Ah, you mean pigs!” she said, recognition dawning. Now it was my turn for the blank stare. “Right, pegs,” I finally translated. “Clothes pegs.” Except the kiwis say ‘e’ like we say ‘i,’ so ‘yes’ becomes ‘yis’ and pegs becomes ‘pigs.’ Giggle and imagine it. Clothes pigs.
I work with a very nice woman named Carolyn, who was excited by the upcoming birth of her first grandson. “I already got him a beyah!” she told me. “A Beer?” I was incredulous. Sounds like a ritual the Budweiser family might follow. “Yis, a really big beyah!” I stared at her. “A really big beer?” I asked again, signaling a drink with my hand. “No,” she said, “a beyah, a tiddy beyah, a really big tiddy beyah!” Ah, a teddy bear, of course.
We had a picnic with our British friends; Ian, Sophie, and their three girls. We brought our grill (the “barbie” as in “barbeque”) to the park to grill hamburgers. Sophie plunked down a tan patty on the grill. “Fallow Fowl” she explained. “Fallow fowl?” I queried–perhaps a type of free range duck? Or a breed of pheasant? “Fallow fowl,” she said, “haven’t you heard of fallow fowl? It’s made of chickpeas.” “Falafel??” I hazarded a guess. “Yes, you haven’t had it?” We are the first gun owners Sophie has ever met in real life, plus Jeremiah kills and eats animals regularly, so she considers us a bit wild and untamed…..maybe the kind of meat-eating folks who had never even heard of falafel. Well, we got that misunderstanding cleared up!