Kiwi lingo in one book

October 23, 2011

Oxford Dictionary of New Zealandisms, by Tony Deverson (Oxford University Press, RRP $39.99):

If you’ve ever had to explain one of those special Kiwi terms to someone online, or to a visitor from overseas, this might be the perfect book for you.

Tony Deverson is a man who knows words – he is the senior editor of the New Zealand Dictionary Centre at Victoria University and taught in the English department at the University of Canterbury until 2001.

He’s used his vast knowledge of both words and of New Zealand to pull together an incredibly comprehensive guide to all of our little quirks and foibles, our slang and our bastardisations of other languages.

All languages are fascinating, none more so than English: it constantly evolves as it steals from other languages like a magpie. And there’s just no telling which of the most popular slang terms will hang around for generations to come, becoming a part of our everyday language.

This book explains the origins of words and phrases, gives clear definitions and will be of interest to Kiwis and non-Kiwis alike. It covers everything from A & P shows and electric puha to whanau and yo-yo (hint: it’s nothing to do with a toy on a string).

Some of the entries are funny, some are surprising and all are interesting.

Jillian Allison-Aitken

I come from the other land down under, where men are men, and sheep are nervous. I'm a sub-editor and in the past have been a proof-reader, news editor and web editor. I am also an ex-columnist, and book and software reviewer for the local daily newspaper.I still read. A lot. And surf the web. Also a lot.You'll find a little about both of those pastimes here, and on By George.

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