No Kiwis Please

I’m an aficionado of accents. From the lilt of the West Indies to the brassy nasality of Long Island to the twang of the South, I love them all. My wife can’t talk to someone with a noticeable accent for more than five minutes without subconsciously adopting that accent herself. It’s one of the many things I find so charming about her.

But this morning, I realized that listening to someone with a New Zealand accent makes me reflexively angry. Every time I hear someone pronounce “test” as “tist” or any of the other characteristic New Zealand pronounciations, I feel a twitch of violence shooting from the base of my skull out to my fists. It’s all I can do not to strike out. Why? I’ve never had a negative experience with a New Zealander; the country looks beautiful, and I’d love to visit it; and I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movies, and I’m looking forward to King Kong. What could be behind this?

4 Replies to “No Kiwis Please”

  1. I wonder if its the same thing that makes me want to mercilessly pummel anyone with a West Virginia accent? And I wonder if MY husband finds me charming in any way? (My gut says, uh, no.)

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  2. Without a doubt.

    I don’t mean to imply that this is the least bit rational or that New Zealanders are pronouncing words wrong or anything remotely like that. This is a much more elemental response that I only became aware of this morning. There must be some sort of sense association of which I’m not conscious at play.

    The only other time I ever have a reaction even vaguely like this is when my mother, who otherwise speaks with the slightest of Yankee accents, pronounces “God” as “Gawd.”

    I’m not making any attempt to defend or excuse this. I’d just like to acknowledge it and try to figure out why it’s happening.

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  3. Some years ago, I went out with a New Zealander. We had a pleasant enough time, but there turned out to be little chemistry between us. We had gotten back from dinner and were sitting in the livingroom of his new house. There was a pause in the conversation, and then this fellow said, “I’d love to show you my huge dick.” I’d had all evening to get used to his accent, fortunately, so no awkwardness or offense resulted.

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