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Kiwis hiding accents in Australia

Tuesday 22 Jan 2013 1:45p.m.

Kiwis hiding accents in Australia

By Alistair Bull

New Zealanders are changing their accents in Australia after having been told they sounded like a posh Englishman, having orders for seafood misunderstood, and being sick of sheep jokes.

Canterbury University researcher Rosemary Baird's study of New Zealand migrants to Australia found they went to Australia for many reasons, not just the economic ones highlighted by political parties and media in the last decade.

Once there a number took some time to adjust and found they needed to change the way they spoke for a variety of reasons.

"Some people were just sick of being picked on for being Kiwis, and everyone always making sheep jokes. It's not real nastiness, it's just you're sick of always being picked up as different," she told NZ Newswire.

One teacher at a working class school in Perth worked on changing his accent because many parents of his pupils thought he sounded "English and too posh".

"There were also stories of people not being understood. There was a story of someone trying to order fish and chips and the person thought they were ordering fresh chicken."

One woman described practising an Australian pronunciation of Flinders St in Melbourne after nobody on a tram could understand where she wanted to disembark.

Of the 36 people she spoke to, 10 recalled trying to change their accents, though others didn't and one Southlander was still rolling his Rs, Ms Baird said.

Ms Baird said her study was not statistically based and consisted of surveys and interviews, as she wanted to focus on the experience of New Zealand migrants to Australia.

Though economic motivations were a factor in migration, Ms Baird said there were a variety of reasons, such as escaping bad relationships, wanting to be with family, and other factors.

"Other people perhaps just want a different lifestyle - I talked to one guy who was sick of surfing in the cold," she said.

"Also, for so many Kiwis in Australia it's a gradual, evolving process where they just go over for a few months for a working holiday and they decide to stay."

NZN

 
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