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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.



London Sounds Retained

Australian and New Zealand popular speech still keeps certain marks of its origin in the metropolitan area, “Cockney” speech, as it is generally called. These diverge more widely from standard speech in Australia than in New Zealand. Three of these characteristic Cockney sounds are represented in the words type for tape, raound (or reound) for round, owld for old. Of these the most persistent, the hardest to eradicate, is the ao in raound which holds its graound in spite of heroic efforts on the part of educational experts. It was formerly known in the U.S., perhaps still is, and appears in the writings of O. W. Holmes and others of his generation. Type for tape, Austrylia and Adelyde became proverbial in Australia and, though not unknown in New Zealand, are far less generally to be heard. When they are, the sound diverges much less widely from the standard than it does in Australia. Owld for old is also far less prevalent in New Zealand than in Australia. The New Zealander is not often heard to complain that it is “sow cowld” as Australians are. It is remarkable that the dropped h, which is so characteristic of mid-Victorian Cockney, has never become a feature of respectable New Zealand speech though not of course entirely absent from “uneducated speech” here. The three Cockney sounds mentioned were all particularly noted by McBurney on his visit to New Zealand in 1886. Two others may be mentioned. In words like me and see the sound of the vowel becomes a diphthong which cannot be represented by conventional symbols. In phonetic script it is mei, the obscure vowel followed by i. In words like beer and fear the emphasis is laid on the first element in the diphthong instead of the second so that it may be spelt as bee-er, fee-er. These pronunciations are common to Australia and New Zealand. Both are characteristic of London speech.

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