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?