Elizabeth Gordon, Lyle Campbell, Jennifer Hay, Margaret
Maclagan, Andrea Sudbury & Peter Trudgill, New Zealand
English: Its history and evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2004. Pp. xix, 370. Hb $85.00.
Between 1946 and 1948, Radio New Zealand established a Mobile Unit
that visited many towns throughout the country, seeking out people who
were longtime residents of small towns in order to record their oral
histories. In 1986 Elizabeth Gordon was told of these archived recordings.
The uniqueness of this data corpus is that the speakers, born between 1851
and 1904, were all participants in the formation of a new dialect, New
Zealand English (NZE). It is unlikely that other data sets will be found
in which tape recording technology and a first generation of speakers come
together. English had arrived in 1840 with the original colonizers, who
were mainly English, Scottish, and Irish. The story gets complicated by
the arrival of many English-speaking immigrants from Australia,
descendants from a penal colony founded in 1788, which had formed its own
new dialect earlier with input from English, Scottish, and Irish settlers.
Moreover, settlers often spent time first in Australia and then moved to
New Zealand, and there was considerable contact between Australia and New
Zealand from the start. It is within this historical setting and with this
database that the Origins of New Zealand English (ONZE) project
researchers set out to describe early NZE in order to examine its