Everybody needs good neighbours: Relating Kiwi and Aussie Englishes

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Date(s) - 22/11/2012
6:30 pm - 10:30 pm

Building B, B214


Professor Allan Bell (Auckland University of Technology)

Australian and New Zealand accents of English are becoming more and more distinct from each other, yet they remain so similar that the rest of the world cannot tell them apart.

Nevertheless, for nationals on both sides of the Tasman a handful of phonetic stereotypes form a focus of ethnic differentiation, the subject of uncountable – and often unprintable – jokes, imitations, parodies and commentaries.

Cross-accent performances in the media – when Kiwis do Aussie and Aussies do Kiwi – are a particularly rich source of data on this matter. From John Clark to the Flight of the Conchords, Billy T James to the Gruen Transfer, Waltzing Matilda to Pokarekare Ana, Prof Bell will examine how such performances operate linguistically.

He considers how the language works together with other aspects of performance – music, costuming, visuals. He then reflects on what these performances mean socially, how they function nationalistically – and why.

Professor Bell concludes that, like neighbours anywhere, these two related Englishes may indeed need each other.