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Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Night with Maori and Yanks -"Ah know Amairi-cun"

A Night with Maori and Yanks - "Ah know Amairi-cun"

A Kiwi friend and I took our kids to see a Maori (native New Zealand peoples) performance and eat a hangi (food cooked in the ground) tonight. Just us, 4 kids, and dozens of visitors from countries around the world including the U.S., Canada, Germany and India. As we were waiting for the ceremonial Waka (canoe) to arrive, one of the Americans with a tour group name tag asked Fiona if she was from New Zealand. "No," said Fiona. "I'm from America." The woman (a Texan named Diann) said in her twang, "Nah, ya'll ain't from Amair-ica. Where in the States do you live?" Fiona replied, "Spokane, Washington." Diann said, "Ah know Amairi-cun, and you sound lahk your from hay-uhr. You must pick up languages quick." Then the Texan told me, "You should git her in a language class."

Maybe it's a Texas thing, but Fiona sounds to me like a plain 'ole American kid to me. She's picked up some Kiwi, telling me today she has a "rubber [eraser] that smells like lemons." She asks me to make sure I've packed her "togs" (swimsuit) for school. And I bet she'll be the only kid in her 2nd grade class in Spokane who can say "hello," and "welcome" in Maori.


  1. Sharon spent 7 years in the Netherlands while her children were from about 1 year to 11. (two kids) Today still, both speak Dutch without an American accent, and English with an American accent. One also is fluent in ASL. Sharon can tell you about a Dutch man arguing that her son wasn't American because he answered in Dutch, saying he couldn't answer in English. He couldn't because he wasn't allowed to speak a different language than was spoken to him....

  2. Ken,
    That is funny! And very cool. I can see how people from other countries wouldn't believe an American could speak another language without an accent. We're not exactly known for our language proficiency!