New Zilland – yeah nah!

Australians are known to have a sense of humour that is, to a large  extent, self mockery and is not meant to be offensive. On the contrary, it can be a sign of feeling secure enough with their friendship that they can ‘have a go’ at someone or indeed themselves, without it being taken personally or causing offense. And so it is between the Kiwis and Aussies.

We love to tease the New Zealanders about their accent and habits, and they mock us about our accent and who really invented pavlova or whether Russell Crowe is an Aussie or Kiwi. Teasing aside, our countries have a similar culture at least in the Anglo-saxon sense.


 My kiwi cousins tease me mercilessly about the way Australians say, “Yeah, nah”, or ‘yes’ then ‘no’ in the one breath/sentence. So, can someone explain why it is that I spotted this T-shirt in the airport of New Zealand’s capital city, in a Wellington airport souvenir shop, with a kiwi on it!!!  I’m confused.

I know I have been guilty of using this ridiculous phrase myself, but hang on the slim defence that in using this phrase, I was actually agreeing with my conversational partner before disagreeing. “Yes“,meaning you are right (it looks like it might rain, but) “no” meaning in reality, it probably won’t – hence “Yeh, nah, it won’t rain”  Clear as mud???

So now, I can rest assured that the stupidity of an idle comment that makes no literal sense has traversed the Tasman and made inroads into New Zealand culture to the point that it will be claimed to be indigenous New Zealand speak, if only because it has the word, ‘bro’, after it!!

Well, this surely is one time that Aussies will NOT disagree, or will they….yeh, nah!

Something for linguists to ponder about.new_zealand_2013_160


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