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    American Versus New Zealand Vocabulary

    The New Zealand variation of English is called "New Zild" which is firmly based on British English.   For that reason, there are quite a few differences compared to American English, which resulted in a few blank looks in the first few years when I was speaking to Americans.

    Unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes you can make when learning American English is to imagine that there is such a thing!   There are many American Englishes, with regional variations in many parts of the country.   The differences I've noted below are all from experience, but they're not necessarily true everywhere in the country.   In the most unlikely places you'll find Americans using "New Zealand" vocabulary rather than the "American" vocabulary I've listed below!   I made the same mistake when I first came to America regarding "American" pronunciation.   I knew that there was a Southern accent, and I assumed that everyone else fitted into a pigeonhole which I labeled the Northern accent.   Of course there's no such thing, instead there's a New Jersey (perhaps I should say Noo Joisey) accent, a New England accent, a Mid-Western accent, a Minnesota or Northern Michigan accent, and a plethora of others!

    Maori Words
    Food and Cooking
    Around the House
    Cars and Driving
    Around and About
    Spelling Differences

    Maori Words

    One of the main things which separates New Zild from other types of English are the words borrowed from the language of the Maori, the polynesian inhabitants of New Zealand who arrived some 500 to 1000 years before Europeans.   The most striking evidence of these borrowed words is in the hundreds and hundreds of Maori placenames all over New Zealand, with some real tongue-twisters for the uninitiated, like Ngaruawahia, Paraparaumu, and the ultimate example: Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu, which translates into English as "the place where Tamatea, the man with big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as 'landeater,' played his flute to his loved one".   It's considered by most of the people who know about such things to be the longest place name in the world.

    Actually, Maori place names are really easier than English place names to pronounce, because they're totally phonetic, only pure vowels are used and there are only 16 letters in the Maori alphabet! 

    Here's a list of ordinary Maori words which all New Zealanders know:

    Aotearoa New Zealand, "land of the long white cloud"
    aroha love
    haka dance
    hangi food cooked in an earth oven
    hui meeting
    iwi tribe
    kai food
    kumara sweet potato
    marae community gathering place with several buildings
    mana pride, ability
    nui big, great
    pa fortress
    pakeha European
    paua abalone
    poi ball with a string tied to it, swung (often in pairs) in intricate rhythmic patterns by women during a haka
    tangi funeral
    taniwha a water-dwelling monster
    tapu sacred, from the same Polynesian word that provided the English word "taboo".
    utu revenge
    waka canoe
    whanau family
    whare house
    wai water

    But there are plenty of other differences between New Zild and American English which have nothing to do with the Maori language:

    Food and Cooking

    brown bread wheat bread
    white bread white bread
    mincemeat ground beef
    beef patty salisbury steak
    blue vein cheese blue cheese
    brawn head cheese
    bacon rasher bacon slice
    (hot) chips (french) fries
    hot dog corn dog
    American hot dog hot dog
    fish fingers fish sticks
    crayfish lobster
    filled roll hoagie
    sub (New York)
    poor boy (Louisiana)
    spring roll egg roll
    biscuit cookie
    porridge oatmeal
    icing sugar powdered sugar
    golden syrup molasses
    candy floss cotton candy
    soft drink soda
    pop  (Chicago)
    soda pop
    smarties M and Ms
    jelly jello
    jam jelly
    capsicum bell pepper
    sweet pepper
    beetroot red beet
    swede rutabaga
    telegraph cucumber English cucumber
    spring onions green onions
    rock melon cantaloupe
    kiwifruit kiwi
    tasty cheddar cheese sharp cheddar cheese
    to grill to broil
    to barbecue to grill
    takeaways takeout
    carry out
    chilly bin cooler
    ice chest

    Around the House

    flat apartment
    flatmate roommate
    bog (very colloquial)
    dunny (very colloquial)
    tap faucet
    tea towel dish towel
    cupboard cabinet
    bench counter
    power socket electric outlet
    electric lead electric cable
    electric cord electric cord
    electric cable electric cable
    to ring somebody
    to phone somebody
    to phone somebody
    garage sale yard sale
    writing pad writing tablet  (but writing pad is used in Texas) 
    guillotine paper cutter
    rubber eraser
    drawing pin thumb tack
    torch flashlight
    clothes peg clothes pin
    duvet comforter
    jersey sweater
    jandals flip flops
    running shoes sneakers
    gumboots galoshes
    togs bathing suit
    snakes and ladders chutes and ladders
    snakes and slides

    Cars and Driving

    bonnet hood
    boot trunk
    wing fender
    windscreen windshield
    window winder window regulator
    accelerator gas pedal   (but accelerator is used in Texas)
    hand brake parking brake
    indicator blinker
    towbar hitch
    tyre tire
    wheel nuts lug nuts
    spanner wrench
    jumper leads booster cables   (but "jumper cables" is used in some places)
    split pin roll pin
    petrol gas
    to pink to lug
    to top up to top off
    to take away (food) to go
    insurance excess insurance deductible
    motorway freeway
    roundabout traffic circle
    zig-zag switchback
    car park parking lot
    judder bar speed bump
    glove box glove compartment

    Around and About

    road surface pavement
    pedestrian crossing crosswalk
    power pole telegraph pole
    lift elevator
    elevator elevator
    shop store
    shop (Chicago)
    shopping trolley shopping cart
    dairy convenience store
    toilet bathroom
    tip garbage dump
    wharf dock
    jumbo bin dumpster
    tramping hiking


    bum bag fanny pack
    haemorrhoids hemorrhoids 
    nappy diaper
    dummy pacifier
    concrete block cinder block
    gib/gib board/gibraltor board sheet rock
    axe ax or axe (axe is used in Texas and elsewhere)
    primary school elementary school
    grade school
    high school
    high school
    university college
    staff room teachers' lounge
    duster eraser
    writing pad writing tablet
    ground floor first floor
    mum mom
    post, postman mail, mailman
    chippie carpenter
    (cow) cockie farmer
    birdwatcher birder
    busker street musician
    girl guide girl scout
    stirrer troublemaker
    bludger freeloader
    ladybird ladybug
    stick insect walking stick
    slater pill bug
    jellyfish jelly
    statutory holiday holiday
    smoko coffee break
    flypast flyby, flyover
    topdresser crop duster
    cowpat cow chip
    cow pie
    dodgy flaky
    pissed drunk
    angry pissed
    anti-clockwise counter-clockwise
    counter-clockwise counter-clockwise
    ousting ouster
    bill (in a restaurant) check
    flipper (footwear for divers) fin
    out back in back
    spat spit
    dragged drug (in New Jersey and some other places)
    sawn-off sawed-off
    '.' = full stop '.' = period
    '#' = hash '#' = pound
    '!' = exclamation mark '!' = bang or exclamation mark

    Spelling Differences

    aluminium aluminum
    centre, metre... center, meter...
    cheque check
    colour, flavour... color, flavor...
    dived dove
    dialogue dialog
    focussed, focussing focused, focusing
    grey gray
    judgement judgment
    maths math
    moustache mustache
    plough plow
    programme program
    staunch (to stop the flow of something) stanch or staunch
    storey story (of a building)
    traveller traveler
    labelled labeled