Politicians and evolving New Zild

There’s been a bit of discussion about pronunciation of the English language in New Zealand.

Pronunciation of any language keeps evolving, and English varies enormously around the world, and in New Zealand regionally and over time.

Quite a bit of attention is paid to the pronunciation of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who seems to use a lot of lazy language, and also Leader of the Opposition, Simon Bridges who seems to be more of a mangler. The two pronounce things quite differently to each other and to many others here.

What about the other leaders? James Shaw is different again, and Green co-leader Marama Davidson is a bit different again. Like them ACT leader David Seymour seems to escape criticism of his accent.

Winston Peters sounds different again, and so does Shane Jones for that matter.

Our accents all sound quite different to New Zealanders in video or audio clips from 50 years ago, and 70 years ago.

There’s southern variations, and rural North Island variations, and South Auckland variations, and other parts of Auckland variations depending on concentrations and origins of immigrants.

The only think fixed about language pronunciation is that it will always keep changing, and these days in New Zealand  the variations can be quite noticeable across generations.

Because we here politicians speaking more than most people outside our normal lives we notice their nuances and mangles and variations more than most.

There’s no correct way to pronounce anything. Few people actually speak ‘the Queen’s English’, which is quaint and dated and to me sounds more unnatural than Ardern or Bridges.

But it gives us something to talk about other than the weather.

Leave a comment


  1. Blazer

     /  22nd April 2020

    Who cares.

    Who wants to talk like Tim Evans-Freak!

    • duperez

       /  22nd April 2020

      Those who hate Jacinda Ardern care. If their favourite delivered words exactly the same as her they’d see the diction as perfect, perfectly adequate or wouldn’t complain.

      Pedants want everything ‘perfect’ others don’t care at all or don’t notice, as long as the communication works. Personally, in formal situations hearing someone saying ‘yeah’ instead of ‘yes’ strikes me as slovenly. That’s the way it is, things change.

      Interesting to consider what things would look like if the developing informality and casualness of language was matched by an equal changing, ‘loosening up’ if you will, of clothing.

      Speaking lazily is okay as long as it comes out of a well-dressed mouth?

  2. Pronunciation errors are a wonderful engine of language change, which is why none of us speak Chaucer’s English


  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  22nd April 2020

    I enjoy wit. Pronunciation rarely bothers me but bad grammar grates and stupidity infuriates.

  4. Gezza

     /  22nd April 2020

    Quite a bit of attention is paid to the pronunciation of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who seems to use a lot of lazy language

    What does ‘lazy language’ mean & have you some examples.


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