Words we use



I have commented on speech patterns before, especially with the overuse of the word ‘Absolutely’. Thankfully it’s usage is now in decline, no longer is it inserted into any and every conversation and especially it would seem during radio interviews. When ever there is a pause in the conversation up pops the word, Absolutely. It would seem that it has now been superseded by the couplet, ‘You Know’. Some people can’t say more that eight words without a “You Know’. I though once it was just a New Zealand conversational fault, but surprisingly it’s world wide. Around the world every one is spouting ‘You Know’. I suppose it’s better than the sound Hummmm or Ahaa that some employ to space out conversation while they think ahead.


I know that radio New Zealand must have a manual on pronunciation, maybe it’s only for Maori words. But I have heard over the years the Chatham Islands pronounced as ‘chat ham’, ‘Shat ham’ and finally ‘Cat ham’. Maybe this place name is not in their book. I’m surprised that Leo Clough an old Port Chalmers boy hasn’t picked it up as he is very pernickety. He now lives in The Chatham’s and not a week goes past that he hasn’t had a letter in the ‘Christchurch Press’ pointing out some mistake or other, under their column of ‘Putting it Right’.


With the radio manual their pronouncing of local Maori names, the announcers can’t always refer to their manual or even understand it, as sometimes they have many variations and especially in the South with our place names and common usage. Sometimes I haven’t a clue of what place, or where they’re talking about. They have given a new meaning to the place names of Taieri, Otakou, or even Oamaru.


When we come to speech, some New Zealanders are remaking our spoken word. Some in the North are so bad that sometimes it difficult to understand exactly what they are saying. So our language is being rewritten by some of the worst speakers in the country. Take ‘Gunner’ for going to. ‘Seen’ for saw. Seen is past tense and requires to used in that sense. This is what is coming over the airwaves daily, which like it or like it not, it’s the medium that’s setting today’s standards. School it would seem have given up the battle. Politicians too talk in cliches, take that away from them and they would be struck dumb. Sometime after a statement from one of them I have to ask myself. What exactly did he say?




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