Down Under Dopers: Help Me with my Accent.

I’m an American, and a Southerner at that, but I have to do a New Zealand accent for a film project I’m doing. I need tips for doing a convincing kiwi. What tips you off to the fake ones? Any words I shoud be sure to encorporate or avoid? Are there different flavors of acccent from different regions, like there are in the American south?

Please, help me not make a fool out of myself while I’m making a fool out of myself.

There are different accents in the various regions of NZ. Listen to Sam Neill (OK he’s a Brit import but he does a passable New Zild accent when needed) and then listen to Tem Morrison. I’d suggest hiring some NZ movies like Once Were Warriors or Whale Rider and listening to them.

Without knowing what region or what culture you’re aiming to play, I can’t suggest any words that you should or should not use.

The older the film, more kiwi the accent sometimes, so you might want to try and pick up Sleeping Dogs or Goodbye Pork Pie. Getting hold of them kight be a bit difficult, but they’re good films in their own right, and very ‘kiwi’.

As a VERY general rule, you’ll need to speak quickly, clip your words, not open your mouth fully, and replace most vowels with a schwa. “Shit” becomes sh’t.

However, that’s a gross generalisation, and you’ll definitely need to get your hands on some sound media. It’s a cool accent if you can get it right.

Why not NZ online radio stations? (“Aucklind’s bist mux of the sivunties, eighties…”) :smiley:

Listen to the Lord of the Rings DVD commentaries on the extended editions (or the documentaries on the regular editions).

Short vowels; weak 'R’s; sibilant 'S’s; a sort of meek vocal expression; try to speak everything at the front top of your palate.

That should help a bit.

There’s a kiwi on this speech accent archive. Good luck!

In terms of vocab, lean towards British words. The odd Amercian word is used over here, but it’s predominantly British. The only unique colloqualism I can remember is the word ‘choice’ as an emotional intensifier, kind of like how kids say ‘cool’, ‘rad’, or ‘excellent’. It’s pretty immature and only used by pre-teens though.

Particularly ‘typical’ NZ accents in the LOTR commentaries, the best one (for guys) is the owner of the farm used for Hobbiton. Richard Taylor comes a close second but he tends to over pronounce his words - prehaps imitate him with a 1/4 mouthful of cotton wool? For a female, it’s probably closer to Fran Walsh, the Production Manager in FOTR Entended DVD, and Nigela Dickson (sp?, the wardrobe designer).

Be aware that typical Maori accents (at least the accent of 90% of Maori I’ve come across) differ significantly. ‘Once were Warriors’, ‘Whale Rider’ and Bobba/Jango Fett’s scene in SW:Episode 2 are your best bets. If you’re going for this, it’s acceptable to call cousins ‘cuzzies’, relatives ‘rellies’, and end the occasional sentence with ‘ehh’ (dissimilar to the Canadian ‘eh’, think of it like a short low-key Fonzy ‘ehh’) accompanied with a slight tilt of the head (ummm… see if you can find any stuff from a NZ comedian “Billy T James”).

Male South Island accents tend have more mumbling than Northerners.

Here’s a few DVDs from Netflix as pointers. If you hunt around, there’s also a few media links at Xtra too. There’s a live webcast of the teenage news show Flipside, with other bits and pieces at TVNZ. Radio and music stuff can be found at NZ On Air.

And for gods sake, it’s pronounced “Ackland, New Zaland” - not “Auack-land, Noo Zee-land” :wink:

Thank you all for your suggestions and help

That’s been my primary research so far. Which region of New Zaland (see? I’m even practicing in print!) does Peter Jackson’s accent resemble?

I think Peter Jackson’s is a good one to emulate, as is Phillipa Boyens, because they aren’t overly exaggerated. They have a kind of mid-Tasman accent, like mine, where if they had lived in Australia you wouldn’t necessarily know that they were Kiwis.

Peter Jackson is from Wellington. It’s right smack-dab in the middle of New Zealand, and it’s where most NZ actors cut their teeth (before Shortland Street, an interminable piece of crap soap opera, came along, which is based in Auckland). Most Kiwi actors have to learn to have a fairly mild accent.

This character you’re playing, what is their role? Their job?

Well, actually my character is a hack film director.

I’m a recent arrival in Auckland and I have to say I don’t notice much of an accent at all but then I’m from South Australia. Only certain words stand out,
next (nixt), fridge (frudge) deck (dick) fish & chips (fush & chups) six & seven (sex and siven).

I am surprised nobody has mentioned the expression “sweet” or “sweet as”, it did originate here didn’t it?

I’ve been to most parts of the country at least once, and, in my (most humble) opinion, there isn’t much variation in accents, it’s just that the more rural you get, the more pronounced the accent becomes. But there isn’t much in the way of variation like you’ve got in the states. In the South Island you can sometimes find a scottish sound in the way ‘r’ is pronounced, stemming from lots of Scottish settlers, especially in cities like Dunedin or Invercargill.

As far as slang goes, most guides that I’ve come across seem really dated. Slang tends more towards english than american. ‘Choice’ has been largly superceeded by the ever-useful ‘sweet as’, or ‘sweet’, meaning good.

I spent several weeks in New Zealand last summer, and observed the following:

It’s fairly common to form a question by tagging “ay?” onto the end of a statement. I observed that from the people around me, as well as on the television: “Can’t do that in your Commodore, ay?”

“Sweet as” and “choice” coexist, though the former is pronounced more like “sweet ass”. Again, these are limited to the younger generation.

Youngsters were also using “far out” as an exclamation, which I’ve only ever heard used in comedies involving stoners before. Said in slow wonderment in response to anything deviating from the usual.

These made such an impression on me that I’ve worked all of them into my everyday speech… I love picking up the groovy bits from accents :stuck_out_tongue: