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Friday, June 8, 2012

Kiwi Talk

Kiwi Talk

One of the joys of travels is learning new ways of expressing yourself. This is a blog I wrote while

living in New Zealand.

I’ve noted that the New Zealanders we’ve met tend to use descriptive language without the aphorisms

that we in the United States tend to favor. An aerosol can on a bathroom shelf of a Bread and

Breakfast we stayed at in Wanaka said it “ends toilet odors.” Isn’t that more what we really want? No

pussy footing around with “air freshener.”


Outside the train station Graymouth a building on one side of the street had a sign — “Eat and Drink.”

A building on the other side of the street had a sign — “Beds.” Any questions? Any confusion?

The traffic bumps to slow cars are known as judder bars. That’s descriptive.

A sign on the Canterbury University campus reads, “People prepared to make changes.” This too, I

believe is another example of straight talk. It is, after all, up to these people, whoever they are, whether

or not they actually make changes. Maybe they’ll decide things are just peachy the way they are and

keep everything just as it is.

Since there is no tipping the cost of a meal or a taxi ride is what the tab says. No complicated math


A weather person describing upcoming cold weather recommended wearing “puffy coats” and advised

listeners to “rug up.”

Grocery carts are known as trolleys or better yet, trundlers.

Responding to grumbling, “Build a bridge and get over it.”

If you get a sore throat you take “Throaties.”

The student centre is offering a seminar about, “flatting” for students who have not, “flatted” before i.e.

renting an apartment (a flat) with a roommate.

Praise: “Good on you.”

Across the Tasmin Sea: “Across the ditch.”

Farmer: “Cowspanker.”

A man from China said he came to New Zealand to learn English and has been so warmly received that

he now considers himself a "Chiwi."

For authors when a book is reprinted it is known as a “Revived Edition.” I really like that.

When your significant other is checking your “speedo” he or she is looking to see how fast you are

driving not checking out your body.

What have you heard on your travels? 


E. B. Davis said...

A country's language says so much about it, Warren. I remember being in England and reading a shampoo bottle, which stated, "for greasy hair." It made me laugh, but I also thought it crass. We like to hide behind our language, which is polite and graceful making allowances for human flaws.

Warren Bull said...

Put the gun down and walk away from the bear slowly. I've got you covered.

Peg Nichols said...

Does "digestive biscuits" sound like something you would want to eat? I kept wondering why the little grocery in London had so much shelf space for "digestive biscuits". Then I bought a package and found out. THEN, my daughter discovered the "digestive biscuits" with CHOCOLATE on the bottom. Are the New Zealanders as fond of "digestive biscuits"?

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I love the language differences! We all speak English yet use the language differently. I want to visit New Zealand and Australia.
People I've been in contact via internet seem so friendly.

Warren Bull said...


New Zealanders are fond of Tofee Pops and Tim Tams which are scrumptious.

Warren Bull said...


Kiwis and Aussies are wonderful people. I highly recommend a visit.

Linda Rodriguez said...

It is amazing how our common language has spread out into such different branches. I'm like you, Warren, I prefer the direct approach in language. In the States, our advertisers and politicians have left us with a lot of euphemisms and doubletalk in our daily language. When "assassination/murder" becomes "termination" in national discourse, as it has, we're in trouble, I think.

Gloria Alden said...

I've always wanted to visit New Zealand. Now I do more than ever. Thanks for the interesting and fun blog, Warren.

Warren Bull said...


What irritates me is non-apology apologies. "Inappropriate behavior" is choosing the wrong fork for the salad, not a label for assault, theft or sexual harassment.

Warren Bull said...


You're welcome. I highly recommend visiting NZ.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Warren, you're so right. I hate hearing--"My behavior was 'inappropriate' when I raped you/slugged you/tried to force sex from you/etc." No real "I'm sorry" in there. It amounts to "I'm sorry I got caught and called on it."

Jim Faurote said...

I remember in NZ the delicious, soft almost overly-sweet chocolate and coconut treats known as "afghans", the common meal referred to as "fush and chups", and the very common use of the term "cheers" as in thank you or that's correct.

Warren Bull said...


Afgans are delicious. I think "cheers" might have been imported from England.

Warren Bull said...

I met a man while walking today who wore an "All Blacks" T-shirt. Go team!

Leslie Budewitz said...

Filing this away for my Kiwi character! (Still waiting to figure out how she got to Montana and into my story.) Thanks, Warren!

Warren Bull said...

Leslie, How old is your character? Many Kiwi's have an OE (Overseas experience) after high school or college that involves working for few years in a foreign country before returning to NZ. We met a couple who met each other after working separately in England and while touring in Asia before returning to NZ.