New Zealand English

Seminar Paper 2007 9 Pages

English Language and Literature Studies - Linguistics


Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. The First Settlers

3. The Development of New Zealand English:
3.1 Influences of English Dialects
3.2 Influences of Other Languages
3.3 Maori Influence

4. Features of New Zealand English:
4.1 Vocabulary
4.2 Pronunciation
4.3 Grammatical features

5. Similarities with other Varieties

6. Conclusion

1. Introduction

New Zealand English is one of the most closely studied national varieties of English outside the USA and UK, and a source of significance for the dialect differentiation and historical evolution of English. Most of the work has been done in the relatively short period of about 15 years compared with the longer time frame of studies in British and American English. One reason for this is that New Zealand English has, from its beginning, benefited from significant co-operative and collaborative activity among New Zealand linguists (see Kuiper, 2003). This paper gives an overview of how this certain variety of the language emerged and changed until today. It also deals with its specific characteristics in comparison with other varieties, especially varieties of the Southern Hemisphere.

2. The First Settlers

New Zealand was first discovered by Polynesian explorers and settled by AD 1150. It was rediscovered by Abel Tasman, a Dutch, in 1642, and was given its name by Dutch geographers by the end of that century. Its language contact situation with English took place when Captain James Cook, who claimed it for the British Crown, visited New Zealand with H.M.S Endeavor in 1769 (see Macalister, 2006; Bauer, 1994). From about 1792 onwards European traders, whalers and sealers operated from the coasts of New Zealand. English was probably the lingua franca of this region.

Since 1840, when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between representatives of the British government and a number of Maori chiefs, English attached its importance. More and more Pakeha, as the Maori called settlers of European origin, came in three periods of mass migration between 1840 and 1880. Most settlers were upper working class and lower middle class and largely British (see Bauer, 1994). There were several motives why they left their home-countries to start a new life so far away. An overriding belief was that travelling to this distant country would enable people to better themselves and provide better prospects for their children, without abandoning their British roots. Their aim was the creation of a new Britain in the South Pacific in the context of British law, religion, education, social values and practices (see Gordon and Sudbury, 2002). Another reason was the hope of becoming wealthy. Miners came, mainly from Australia, enforced by the hope to find gold since it had been discovered in 1861 in Otago, South Island. The first period of immigration in the 1840s and 1850s were planned settlements organized by the New Zealand Company set up for the purposes of land speculation under the direction of Edward Gibbon Wakefield. These settlements are also known as the Wakefield Settlements, i.e. Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson and New Plymouth. The second period was in the 1860s with the discovery of gold in Otago. Besides Australian miners large numbers of Irish Catholics, a group excluded by the earlier planners, settled down just as soldiers from Britain, Australia and Ireland, who were in the regiments of the British Army to fight in the New Zealand Wars. The last stage of immigration was from 1870 to 1885, a period when the government embarked on a program of public works and development. By the 1890 there were more New Zealand-born than immigrants and considered themselves quite distinct from the arriving groups (see Gordon and Sudbury, 2002; Bauer, 1994). This date can be taken as a point after which the development of the English spoken in New Zealand reflected New Zealand rather than British or Australian trends (see Bauer, 1994).

3. The Development of New Zealand English:

3.1 Influences of English Dialects

The most important ingredients in the mixture that was to lead to the development of a new and distinctive form of English in New Zealand were the dialects and accents of the language brought to New Zealand by speakers of English who came for the most part from England, Scotland, Ireland and Australia. Census figures indicate that the proportions of settlers coming from different Anglophone areas to New Zealand in the period up to 1881 were as follows:

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Most of the early English settlers came from the West Country, which had a tradition of emigration, e.g. New Plymouth settlers were brought by the Plymouth Company in 1841-1843 from Devon and Cornwall. Others came from Surrey, Essex and Kent – near but not from London. Many Scottish and Irish settlers were from around major urban areas, i.e. Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast and Dublin. A good deal of the British settlers had agricultural or laboring backgrounds (see Gordon and Trudgill, ‘English input to New Zealand’). This is reflected in the dialects they spoke and the mixture that makes up the major part of New Zealand English now.



ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Institution / College
University of Duisburg-Essen
English New Zealand Variety Language Linguistik Linguistics Neu Zeeland Englisch



Title: New Zealand English