Story: Linguistics

Language change

In the past New Zealand speakers usually made a clear distinction between the diphthongs (a speech sound that begins with one vowel and glides to another) in the words 'near' and 'square'. In the 2000s for many younger speakers there is no distinction between them. This 2013 Pak 'n' Save supermarket advertisement makes the point very clearly – 'beer' sounds just like 'bear' and 'cheers' just like 'chairs'. The work of Canterbury University linguists Elizabeth Gordon and Margaret Maclagan, researching historical New Zealand English, began by looking at this change in pronunciation.

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How to cite this page:

Janet Holmes, 'Linguistics - Linguistics in New Zealand', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 7 December 2023)

Story by Janet Holmes, published 22 Oct 2014