Thursday, January 11, 2018

articulating my kiwi experience 5.5 years later

Two aspects I really enjoyed about working in New Zealand were: (1) the extremely diverse English words and accents. NZ English takes bits and pieces from the native Maori peoples, Pacific Islanders, the UK and Asia. a linguist's dream! I learned a lot of new words there. (2) my students’ personalities. I shouldn’t generalize, but in general, they were very humble, attentive, sensitive, unrushed, and curious. 

In the last days before I left it occurred to me that I may never hear that linguistic diversity again, at least not the way it was at that moment, so I decided to record some of the people who were around. Some of the people whom I recorded I had gotten to know closely over 3 years, others I had just recently met that last semester. 

I’ll spare the long and sappy drama, and just say that, even though I remember my time in NZ everyday, after I left I didn’t have the guts to open those video files. they sat on my external hard drive for 5.5 years. but today, with time and good company, I decided to open them up, face some of the emotions, and put them together in iMovie. 

Here you have 10 kiwis talking about their worries and their morning routines:

One thing that strikes me when I watch the videos is that they were recorded BEFORE the smartphone invasion, and I wonder if that attributes to a more relaxed and focused atmosphere. 

Another thing I noticed is that I hear the NZ English in a simultaneous dual way. one is, I guess, an automatic natural way in which I listen and understand fluidly because, even though I don’t hear this way of speaking anymore, I went through the process of learning it many years ago, the knowledge is back there in my brain and it didn't have any trouble being retrieved. The second way of hearing the speech is through what I imagine my audience (mainly American-English and Spanish speakers) will hear—kiwi English for the first time, not understanding the local references or some of the words. 

The video clips are obviously very personal, but I’m sharing them because for me it’s cathartic and also because, even though these will be just brief clips of strangers for the viewer, maybe one can also appreciate or learn something from the content. and maybe for the young or depressed, it might show that the planet is still big, and there are still other livelihoods out there. 

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