Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Two countries divided by a common language

Further to my "what I had to leave out of my campervan travel story" post from yesterday, I'm back to provide a handy Kiwi to American English glossary. We realized we'd need one of these on our second day of the trip. We were visiting the seemingly kitschy but actually very cool "Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World." It was the brainchild of New Zealand native Kelly Tarlton, "Diver, dreamer, explorer, inventor, instigator, worker, storyteller and father; a man who linked us all with his love of the sea." He fulfilled his life dream of creating an aquarium in 1982, housing it in a disused sewer on the Auckland waterfront (you descend a flight of stairs from the street level to get to the aquarium.) Sad that Tarlton passed away at only 47, 2 months after his aquarium opened and on the same day that its 100,000 visitor arrived.

We loved riding the Snow-Trac past the colony of Gentoo and King penguins, and passing beneath the shark tube attraction, and watching the sting rays get fed by a perky wetsuit-clad docent. There were lots of other cool fish to see and learn about in tanks throughout the building.

But we were puzzled to read that the stonefish, "the most venomous fish known to man," could sting us through our Jandals.

What? Surely getting stung through the Jandal is not good, but exactly how bad is it?

On the ride home in the shark-topped Tarlton shuttle, the driver cleared it up for us - jandals are flip flops, which explains why a bottom-dwelling fish might sting you there. Later in the trip I bought Classic Kiwiana by Richard Wolfe and Stephen Barnett in which it explained that the term derived from "Japanese Sandals "observed by Aucklander Morris Yock on Japanese swimmers at the 1956 Summer Olympics (though that claim is hotly disputed.) Yock made the switch from wood to rubber and a Kiwi icon was born.

A few other terms we noted along the way:
  • Hundreds and Thousands = Sprinkles (handy for ordering ice cream and Fluffies)
  • Prang = Fender bender
  • Merge Like A Zip = Merge (as in driving)
  • (Adjective) As! = Very (Same Adjective). Kiwi As, Warm As, Easy As, ... "C'mon in, the water is warm as!"
  • Bash Out A Text = Send a Text Message
  • Flash Name = Nickname
  • Hardcase = We are still confused about this, it's on Champion Rugby league ads all over the country and we think it means something like a fanatic, but there's a shade of difference that no one every really got across to us. We should probably go back and ask more questions.

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