Posted by: scribe9 | April 8, 2010

Mincing beef and words

Down here, hamburger is known as beef mince. One can buy ground lamb, or turkey, or chicken, and they’re all minces, too. But if a sign just says “mince,” on a grocery ad or a baker’s cabinet full of pies, it means ground beef. What Americans call mincemeat is “fruit mince.”

New Zealanders mince words several ways. One is by turning them into diminutives: present becomes prezzy, breakfast is brekkie, and so forth. Another is by lopping off the end of words or sentences, so the reader or hearer fills in the rest.

To-wit:

“Good as” is short for “good as gold,” which is basically “fine” or “no worries.”

“Sweet as” means “very satisfactory; excellent.”

“Cold Az” is the name of an ice company.

Someone in my neighborhood has “Glad as” a license plate, but I’m not sure what the final word(s) should be.

New Zealanders, speaking a variant of British English, soften the final r on words until it can’t be heard: “number” is pronounced “numba.” But it’s not just the pronunciation; a lot of businesses spell their names that way. So, there’s Schnappa Rock (a seaside restaurant); Kidza Cool Adventures (a summer day-camp program); Bushwacka Experience (a local firm specializing in company social outings and team building tours); Tracta Trans (a heavy equipment moving company); Cheapa Campa (an RV rental company); Betta Motor Works (a BMW garage); and Supa everything: Supa Karts (go-karts); Lowery Supa Cutters (concrete cutter firm); Trowel Trades Supa Centre (plasterers’ supplies); Supa Travel Express (airport shuttle); Supa Prepay Plans (Vodafone); Manakau Supa Centa (a strip mall); and on and on. New Zealanders are not noted for putting on airs.

As long as we’re talking about orthography, I’m one of those people who laments the misuse and overuse of apostrophes, and I find no respite here. In December we bought some wrapping paper decorated with palm trees and kiwis on it and the wish: “May all of your Christmas’s be white…sandy beaches.” Argh!

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Responses

  1. The apostrophe irritation must run in the family.

    • It does–and I’m happy to say that my kids inherited it.


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