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Australians are known around the world as being fairly laid-back and friendly people. However, there are some situations when Australians are less amiable: during sports matches (it doesn’t matter which sport) and when people incorrectly guess where their accent is from. There is one thing you shouldn’t say to an Australian: where in New Zealand are you from? Let us guide you through the differences between Australia and New Zealand.
Like it or not, Australia and New Zealand have some similarities. Not only are they neighbours, but both countries are a part of the British Commonwealth. This is noticeable in the very similar flags (though New Zealand has red stars, compared to Australia’s white). Historically, Australia and New Zealand also fought together in WWI, under the ANZACs (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps). Both countries love their sports, although rugby is the most popular in New Zealand, and cricket and AFL reign in Australia.
So what don’t they have in common? Well, New Zealand has a sixth of Australia’s population. It also has vastly different landscapes. New Zealand is home to snowy mountains, beautiful turquoise lakes and fjords. Whereas Australia is known for its arid desert, sandy beaches and cosmopolitan cities. Another thing people in these countries don’t have in common? Their accents.
So how does someone tell the difference between Australian and New Zealand accents? It’s all in the vowels. In a New Zealand accent, an i sounds more like a u sound. The most common example that highlights this difference is in the classic dish, “fish and chips”. For a New Zealander, it sounds more like “fush and chups”. Another vowel difference is that a New Zealand e sounds similar to i. So “beg” sounds like “big”, and “yes” sounds like “yis”.
Whereas in Australian accents, the vowels are more drawn out, and pronunciation is more relaxed. Australians and New Zealanders also have very different slang terms, which is another easy way to determine where someone is from.
Like Canadian versus American accents, it’s inevitable that you may guess the wrong country when determining whether someone is Australian or from New Zealand. The only thing you can do is never ask where in New Zealand they are from (or South Africa, for that matter).