Learning the English language becomes more interesting and more challenging, the deeper you dive into the peculiarities of a language: idioms, puns and slogans are used instinctively to make the conversation more colourful. Not only that, but it is a benefit for both business and private life. The better you understand and know how to use them, the more you will enjoy conversation with the locals and the more comfortable you’ll feel while socializing.
In every country, and often in different regions language can signal local identity. Special phrases, words and expressions are often only understood in context or by those in the community as they originate in local circumstances and surroundings. In New Zealand there are many phrases that don’t occur elsewhere and you may need to guess or even ask someone what they mean.
Godfrey Bowen and one of his brothers, Ivan, changed the face of shearing with their innovative method. Way back in the 1930s a top shearer could do 300 sheep, but Godfrey topped this at 453 sheep in just 9 hours… and later a complete sheep in just 60 seconds.
“Hey Godfrey, ya ready for another one?" Said Aroha the rousie. Aroha had been clearing the shorn wool from the floors and separating it for packing.
“Yeah, good as gold. Gimme another 30 sheep and then we need a cuppa.”
“Right, good to go, mate, but we’re running outta blade oil.” “I’ll have a fossick in the cupboard for some more. Be back in the shake of a lamb’s tail.” Aroha rushed out to the back of the shed.
“Godfrey, we don’t have any left. What’ll we do?” He looked up, but only for a second, as the sheep between his knees was patiently waiting to head for the yards outside. They had to be finished by five o’clock. “Get under the Landrover and let a bit of oil out of the sump. We’ll have to use that.”
Aroha looked for something to put the oil in. Nothing was suitable. So she went into the kitchen and tipped the coffee into a plastic bag. The coffee container was just right. As she came back inside with the oil in the container she heard Godfrey talking to his mate: “Good thing that I had a number one haircut last night, the sweat’s just pearling off of me.”
“Hey, Godfrey, it looks like you’ve shorn yourself, your hair is so short. OK, here’s the oil, but you’ll have to be careful ‘cos it’ll spill easily.” Aroha handed him the coffee container and Godfrey oiled the blades before finishing the last few sheep.
“Well, Aroha, that was a good idea to get the oil – it’s my shout! And, looks like I died on the hole – only 299 shorn today. You blokes are gonna make me poor.”
- “Yeah, good as gold” is a Kiwi way to say “yes” – and a “yes” with the certainty that gold is a good thing to have.
- A few minutes later “right, good to go, mate” indicated Godfrey was ready to continue.
- “I’ll have a fossick in the cupboard" is used when searching for something, but you’re not sure where it might be and you have to look in different places.
- "Be back in the shake of a lamb’s tail" says you’re going to do something and return fast.
- "A number one haircut" is a short, short haircut around 1mm in length possibly deriving from earlier sheep shearing days.
- After a day’s hard work it is a good idea "to shout your mates" – and pay for a round of drinks. But, if you have "died on the hole", this means you only managed to shear 199 or 299 sheep. And as a result, you’ll have to shout your mates another drink at the pub.
Image credentials: Photo cutout