English is the predominant language in New Zealand, spoken by 98 percent of the population. New Zealand English is mostly non-rhotic with an exception being the Southern Burr found principally in Southland and parts of Otago. It is similar to Australian English and many speakers from the Northern Hemisphere are unable to tell the accents apart. In New Zealand English the short i (as in kit) has become centralised, leading to the phrase fish and chips sounding like "fush and chups" to the Australian ear. The words rarely and really, reel and real, doll and dole, pull and pool, witch and which, and full and fill can sometimes be pronounced as homophones. Some New Zealanders pronounce the past participles grown, thrown and mown using two syllables, whereas groan, throne and moan are pronounced as one syllable. New Zealanders often reply to a question or emphasise a point by adding a rising intonation at the end of the sentence.
From 1880 Maori MPs in parliament were keen that Maori should be taught in English rather than Māori. At that time missionary schools still taught Maori. This trend was further enforced by the Young Maori Party of the early 20th century which consisted of highly qualified Western educated Maori graduates such as Pomare and Ngata who believed that learning English would help Maori integrate into the modern world. After WW2 Maori,who had previously lived mainly in isolated rural areas migrated into urban areas where there were few Maori speakers. Maori were discouraged from speaking their own language (te reo Māori) in schools and work places and it existed as a community language only in a few remote areas. It has recently undergone a process of revitalisation, being declared one of New Zealand's official languages in 1987, and is spoken by 4.1 percent of the population. There are now Māori language immersion schools and two Māori Television channels, the only nationwide television channels to have the majority of their prime-time content delivered in Māori. Many places have officially been given dual Māori and English names in recent years. Samoan is the most widely spoken non-official language (2.3 percent), followed by French, Hindi, Yue and Northern Chinese. New Zealand Sign Language is used by approximately 28,000 people and was made New Zealand's third official language in 2006.
Read more about this topic: Demographics Of New Zealand
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Famous quotes containing the word language:
“The language of the younger generation ... has the brutality of the city and an assertion of threatening power at hand, not to come. It is military, theatrical, and at its most coherent probably a lasting repudiation of empty courtesy and bureaucratic euphemism.”
—Elizabeth Hardwick (b. 1916)
“It would seem as if the very language of our parlors would lose all its nerve and degenerate into palaver wholly, our lives pass at such remoteness from its symbols, and its metaphors and tropes are necessarily so far fetched.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“Jargon: any technical language we do not understand.”
—Mason Cooley (b. 1927)