ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE IPA New Zealand English
Laurie Bauer, Paul Warren, Dianne Bardsley,
Marianna Kennedy & George Major
School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies
Victoria University of Wellington
In this illustration, we present a transcription and discussion of the variety of English spoken
by people of European descent in New Zealand. Locally, such people are referred to as
a, using the M¯
aori word. P¯
a speech is illustrated here in the speech of three
educated women. Variation in New Zealand English has been illustrated in a number of
publications. Much of this variation, however, is lost in the formal environment of reading
a short passage for a microphone, especially when, as is the case in the accompanying
recordings, the readers are middle-class women. Thus some of the features which might be
expected from New Zealanders do not occur in these recordings, although the speakers are
all clearly New Zealanders.
dental Dental Alveolar
alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive pb td kg
Fricative fvTDszSZ h
Nasal m n N
Approximant w ® j w
The consonants of New Zealand English do not differ in terms of number of phonemes from
what is found in other comparable varieties of English. For most New Zealanders today there
is no independent /∑/ phoneme, although this can still be heard from some conservative or
southern speakers in words like which and whale. New Zealanders do not have an /x/ phoneme,
though [ç] may be heard as an allophone of /j/ in words like huge and pewter.
Journal of the International Phonetic Association (2007) 37/1 C
International Phonetic Association
doi:10.1017/S0025100306002830 Printed in the United Kingdom
98 Journal of the International Phonetic Association: Illustrations of the IPA
ppie ttie kcoo
bbuy ddie ggoo
fﬁe Tthigh Ùetch
vvie Dthy Ãedge
mmy nnigh Nhang
wwhy ®rye jyou
The transcription system here is based largely on Bauer & Warren (2004a), with minor
modiﬁcations due to Bauer & Warren (2004b). The various vowels are identiﬁed in the list
below using the lexical sets of Wells (1982). Approximate locations of the vowels, including
starting and ending points for diphthongs, are given in the accompanying ﬁgures (1–3). The
system is not designed primarily for the speakers in the accompanying sound ﬁles, but as a
more general transcription of New Zealand English, and in some instances slightly broader
speakers are envisaged in the transcription system. Note for instance that the speakers in
the recording have more retracted starting points for the FAC E and MOUTH vowels than is
indicated in the transcription and vowel charts. As a rule, our choice of transcription symbols
is intended to draw attention to differences from other varieties of English without being
excessively narrow. Thus the most romanic symbol is often avoided, but diacritics are equally
In general, the vowel system of New Zealand English can be said to match the vowel
system of other non-rhotic standard varieties of English such as RP and Australian English.
Phonetically, however, there are important differences, which are indicated in the transcription.
Phonemically there are three differences or potential differences. Many speakers, particularly
younger speakers, have a NEAR-SQUARE merger. Most speakers have a separate vowel phoneme
in what we term the GOLD lexical set. And there is no distinction between the unstressed vowels
in words like villages and villagers. Since the KIT and the commAvowels contrast only in
unstressed syllables in RP, and since the KIT vowel is notoriously very centralised in New
Figure 1 Approximate positions for the New Zealand English monophthongs.
Laurie Bauer et al.: New Zealand English 99
Figure 2 Approximate start and ﬁnish targets for the closing diphthongs in New Zealand English.
Figure 3 Approximate start and ﬁnish targets for the centering diphthongs in New Zealand English.
Zealand English, thus contrasting strongly with the Australian pronunciation, KIT can be
attributed to the same phoneme as the commAvowel.
9KIT 8…NURSE œe FAC E
eDRESS i…FLEECE Ae PRICE
ETRAP oe CHOICE
åSTRUT å…BATH,PA L M ,START åË GOAT
ÅLOT Ë…GOOSE œo MOUTH
UFOOT o…THOUGHT,NORTH,FORCE Å¨ GOLD
9commA,lettER e´ SQUARE
¨treacLE Ë´ CURE
100 Journal of the International Phonetic Association: Illustrations of the IPA
Minimal pairs to show the phonemic values of these vowels when they occur in stressed
syllables are given below.
i…tea peat Ë…two
9pit œe Tay p a t e
epet Ae tie
Epat oe toy
åputt åË toe
å…tar part œo tau pout
Åpot Å¨ toll
o…tore port i´ tier
Uput e´ tare
8…pert Ë´ tour
Stress as such is not very different from other varieties such as RP, Australian or North
American standard Englishes, though full vowels are more likely to occur in unstressed
syllables in New Zealand English than in these other varieties. This has been claimed to give
New Zealand English a more ‘syllable-timed’ rhythm than other varieties.
The most widely discussed feature of New Zealand English intonation is undoubtedly the High
Rising Terminal (HRT), a dramatic rise at the end of statement utterances, particularly used
by younger speakers of the variety. This tune is often misinterpreted by non-NZE speakers
as signalling a questioning or uncertain attitude, but in fact it appears to serve a discourse
function of including the hearer in the conversation. There is some indication that such rises
on statements are phonetically distinct, in terms of timing of the rise, from rises on questions.
The only other intonational feature that has received much comment is a tendency for pitch
on unaccented syllables to stay relatively high, compared with other varieties.
/p/ is aspirated and /t/and/k/ are affricated when they occur initially in a stressed syllable
(with no preceding syllable-initial /s/). /p/and/k/ may also be aspirated intervocalically even
where not initial in a stressed syllable. In the same position /t/ is usually voiced, possibly
tapped as [|]. All three plosives may also be aspirated word-ﬁnally, especially before a pause,
though there is an increasing tendency for /t/, and to a lesser extent /p/and/k/, to be glottally
reinforced or replaced by [/] in this position. This could lead to [/] becoming a phoneme in
New Zealand English, though we do not believe it is yet perceived in such terms. We have
transcribed it in the passage below where it occurs. As in other varieties of English, voiced
obstruents are devoiced adjacent to a pause or a voiceless segment. In individual lexical items,
this devoicing may also affect intervocalic obstruents.
Aspiration/affrication of plosives is realised as devoicing of a following sonorant
consonant where there is one in the same syllable. /®/ is typically an approximant, with [√]an
extremely rare alternative. It is a fricative following /t/or/d/, and may be a tap following /T/.
/l/ is typically somewhat velarised prevocalically and usually vocalised non-prevocalically,
especially in broader varieties, which is illustrated in the word-lists accompanying the
recording of the passage. The precise nature of the vowel is variable, and the suggested
transcription symbol [¨] is chosen for its lack of ambiguity rather than for its precise quality.
There is considerable neutralisation of vowels before /l/, with the distinction between /e/
and /E/ being the most thoroughly neutralised pair in this environment. The vowel in the FOOT
Laurie Bauer et al.: New Zealand English 101
lexical set is fronted and unrounded in some lexical items, typically, for example, in good,
but see also the word could both in the passage and in the words in isolation from Speakers
1 and 2. There is an open variant of the commAvowel which occurs at word-boundaries,
and especially phrase-initially and phrase-ﬁnally. This is clearly illustrated in the word pewter
spoken by Speaker 3. This is then perceived as being an unstressed version of the STRUT vowel,
and has been so transcribed here. The happYvowel is perceived by New Zealanders as being
phonemically identical to the FLEECE vowel, though they are transcribed differently here.
Both can be diphthongised. THOUGHT/NORTH/FORCE is often diphthongised in lengthening
environments. NEAR,SQUARE and CURE may be disyllabic in all environments.
The recorded passage
The passage used here is the traditional one, ‘North Wind and the Sun’, made more
geographically and culturally appropriate by having the North Wind replaced by the Southerly.
A series of words is also presented to illustrate some of the vocalic phenomena which are not
elicited by the passage, and to illustrate some of the phenomena that are commented on in
this text. Minimal pairs or potential minimal pairs were not read next to each other, though
speakers could clearly remember having read a similar word earlier.
Three female speakers read the passage. The transcription given below is the transcription
for Speaker 1, except that there is a reading error, so that she actually says ‘the Southerly
wind’ where the passage had ‘the Southerly’ on the second occurrence of the phrase.
Speakers 1 and 2 are in their twenties and were both MA students in the School of
Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Victoria University at the time of recording.
Speaker 1 is a native of Dunedin and Speaker 2 is a native of Nelson, both in New Zealand’s
South Island. Speaker 3 is an older, conservative speaker, raised in a North Island rural area
and a former secondary school teacher of English.
Phonemic differences in the readings of the passage are small. Speaker 2 says /mo…®iblË…/
with a linking-r; Speaker 3 has a full vowel in than, a third syllable in traveller in some of the
repetitions of this word, a /d/ontheendofand, and no linking-r but a full vowel in of in
the phrase stronger of the two. There are also minor differences in stress. In phonetic terms,
the open STRUT vowel of Speaker 1, the centralised KIT vowel of Speaker 2 and the close TRAP
vowel of Speaker 3 are worthy of note. All the speakers diphthongise the GOOSE vowel in the
word two at the end of the passage.
In the wordlist material, the hypercorrect clear /l/ of Speaker 3 (in some words) in ﬁnal
position contrasts with the vocalisation of the two younger speakers, as does the clear (if
perhaps deliberately so) distinction between beer and bear and between Alan and Ellen.The
raised vowel in the ﬁrst pronunciation of the word southerly may be an error or may be another
hypercorrection. Note though that she has smile as the expected disyllable and has a glottal
stop in ﬁtness. The younger speakers merge Alan and Ellen, as expected, and have variable
mergers in the ﬁll,full,fool set and a long back vowel in school (note that the GOOSE vowel
is a back vowel in New Zealand English only before an erstwhile /l/, even if that /l/hasnow
The reading passage
The Southerly wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger, when a
traveller came along wrapped in a warm cloak. They agreed that the one who
ﬁrst succeeded in making the traveller take his cloak off should be
considered stronger than the other. Then the Southerly blew as hard as he could,
but the more he blew, the more closely the traveller wrapped his cloak around
him; and at last the Southerly gave up the attempt. Then the Sun shone out
warmly, and immediately the traveller took off his cloak. And so the Southerly
was obliged to confess that the Sun was the stronger of the two.
102 Journal of the International Phonetic Association: Illustrations of the IPA
D9"såD9li "w9nd 9nD9"sån w9d9s"pjË…t9Nw9Ùw9zD9"st®ÅNg9wen 9
"t®Evlå kœem 9"lÅN "®Ept 9n9"wo…m"klåËk Dœe 9"g®i…dD9/D9"wån hË…
"f8…ssåk"si…d9d9n"mœek9ND9"t®Evlå "tœek 9z"klåËk Åf |"SUd bi…
k9n"s9d9d"st®ÅNg9D9nDi"åDå"Den D9"såD9li blË…9z"hå…d9zhi"kUd |
b9/D9"mo…hi "blË…|D9mo…"klåËsli D9"trEvl9"®Ept h9z"klåËk 9"®œond
h9mEn 9t"lå…sD9"såD9li "gœev åp Di9"tempt "Den D9"sån SÅn "œo/
"wo…mli |9n9"mi…di9/li D9"t®Evl9tUk "Åf h9z"klåËk 9n"såË D9"såD9li
w9z9"blAeÃdt9k9n"fes D9/D9"sån w9zD9"st®ÅNg9®9vD9"tË…
BAUER ,L.&WARREN, P. (2004a). New Zealand English: phonology. In Kortmann, B., Schneider, E. W.,
Burridge, K., Mesthrie, R. & Upton, C. (eds.), A Handbook of Varieties of English, 580–602. Berlin &
New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
BAUER ,L.&WARREN, P. (2004b). Curing the Goat’s Mouth. In Cassidy, S., Cox, F., Mannell, R. &
Palethorpe, S. (eds.), Proceedings of the 10th Australian International Conference on Speech Science
and Technology, 215–220. Canberra: Australian Speech Science and Technology Association Inc.
WELLS, J. C. (1982). Accents of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.