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

7 - The origins of New Zealand English: reflections from the ONZE data


More nonsense has been spoken and written and there is generally more misinformed opinion about pronunciation in this country than about our indigenous slang – which is saying a lot.

(Sidney Baker 1941b: 93)


In his discussion of dialect levelling and homogenisation, Chambers (1995: 58) writes:

We would like to understand precisely how this homogenisation takes place. Which features of constituent accents are retained, and which ones are lost? In other words, what are the dynamics of homogenisation? Since no sociolinguists were present – or even existed – during the European imperialist era, we will probably have to wait for the planting of colonies in outer space for large-scale studies of the dynamics of homogenisation.

The ONZE data and analyses (in Chapter 6) contribute to answering Chambers' questions without awaiting the colonisation of outer space.

The goal of this chapter is to assess critically the various proposed explanations of and approaches to the origins of New Zealand English that were introduced in Chapter 4. We also consider other sociolinguistic explanations for new-dialect development in the light of the results of this research. Where possible, we measure the degree to which the frameworks and proposals live up to the results from the data analysis presented in Chapter 6 and to newly available background material we present here.

For ease of reference, we utilise as far as possible the same numbering of sections in this chapter as in Chapter 4.

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