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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: September 2009

3 - The historical background


Whenever by choice or fate men set out on journeys across the earth they drag the burden of their past with them as a snail drags its shell. No matter how ardent the adventurer or how inescapable the exile, ghosts of the past lurk at the back of the voyager's mind to bemuse him.

(Sidney Baker 1947: 13)


The origins and development of New Zealand English are, quite obviously, intimately intertwined with the history of immigration to New Zealand. In this chapter, therefore, we survey the European settlement history of New Zealand and its relation to the development of New Zealand English. As will be seen in Chapters 6 and 7, historical factors, in particular population figures and places of origin, are important to any consideration of how new dialects develop. If we are to consider concepts such as the ‘founder effect’ (Mufwene 1996), ‘First Effective Settlement doctrine’ (Zelinsky 1992: 13; Labov 2001: 45), ‘swamping’ (Lass 1990), or processes involved in ‘koinéisation’ (Trudgill 1986b) in relation to New Zealand English (see Chapter 7), then specific historical information is needed.

Historical background: the immigrants

The investigation of the origins and evolution of New Zealand English requires an understanding of both sociolinguistics and history.

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