Skip to main content
Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



The American Impact

The probable future state of the English language in New Zealand is problematical and he would be a bold man who would attempt to forecast it with any degree of certainty. This is because the forces at work upon it are so conflicting. On the one hand what may be called the natural, even inevitable tendency to change will be encouraged by the growing spirit of nationalism, by the probable weakening of the ties with the old country, the equally possible strengthening of the influence of the United States, and by a certain feeling, not exactly of animosity but of lack of sympathy observable in the New Zealander in his relations with the United Kingdom. On the other hand, the tendency to change is checked or discouraged by tradition, by the continued if diminishing influx of immigrants from the United Kingdom, by the conservative forces at work in the press, in literature, and in the official voice of the radio. The fate of the English language in the U.S. is significant for the New Zealander. Thus we see, as we may possibly see here, a great difference between the written and spoken languages. The written or printed language in the U.S. differs remarkably little from ordinary standard English while the spoken language has diverged so widely and so variously from that standard that it is not always easily intelligible to the English listener, and of course the gulf grows wider as we descend in the social scale. And so it may go in New Zealand. The direct influence of the U.S., already strong, is likely to become even stronger in the future and to encourage certain changes in idiom and in vocabulary and pronunciation. This tendency is encouraged partly by mere proximity and partly by the similarity in social structure between New Zealand and the U.S.

Next Part: Dialects