I want to quickly clear something up about New Zealand accents, since the topic was touched upon briefly yesterday.
In New Zealand English, the vowel in “short e” words like dress or bed moves very close to the vowel that Americans and Brits use in the word kit. In a strong Kiwi accent, therefore, red will sound very similar to American rid (i.e. IPA ɹɪd).
Just to be clear, though: the vowel in dress does not merge with the vowel in kit. Kiwis do not pronounce bed and head the same as bid and hid. Rather, the vowel in kit is retracted (that is, pronounced with the tongue further back in the mouth).
To an outsider, then, New Zealand bet and bit can sound sort of like “bit” and “but” (this is more accurately IPA bet and bɘt, but the “layman’s” transcription is more amusing!)
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the vowel in words like trap in NZ English likewise moves upward toward the vowel in dress. To give an example of all these vowel shifts in action, if a New Zealander were to say …
Peck the pack of pickles
It might sound to an American like …
Pick the peck of puckles
(In IPA, this would be pek ðə pɛk əv pɘkɫz.)
This little quirk is the biggest difference between Australian English and New Zealand English. In Australian accents, the vowel in kit actually does the opposite: it moves toward the vowel in fleece. Hence Australian bit can sound a bit like beat to an American.
I hope this clarifies things. I’ll end this post with an accent sample of a famous New Zealander, so you can see what I’m talking about for yourself. Here’s a snippet of NZ prime minister
-elect John Key:
P.S. This post is unusually terse today as I have been battling massive server outages with my web host. My apologies for anybody trying to reach my site earlier this morning!