two cars… two Englishes




Both U.S.A. and New Zealand speak the same language – ostensibly. But it is a case of the two nations being separated by a common language. You can see this well by comparing how the two cultures talk about their cars.

Penny and I have a car in the States … a nice PT Cruiser. I love that car, and my sister Gina says that it’s me. It’s a kind of retro thing.

We also had a car in NZ. It was a Hyundai Sonata. It was a gift horse – so we didn’t look it in the mouth.

They pronounce the “y” in Hyundai there, but not in the States. In the U.S.A. it would be called a “HUNDAY”.”

One of differences between the two cars is that the Hyundai is built for driving on the left side of the road. For some reason, Kiwis like doing that. The steering wheel is on the right side, and the wipers and the directional signal devices are reversed. All of this makes for some rather surreal experiences once one decides to give driving a try.  It took months before Penny and I remembered which side of the car to get in on.

The Cruiser has a windshield, but the Sonata has a windscreen.

The Cruiser has a back hatch, but the Sonata has a boot – which in the States would be called a trunk.

The Cruiser has a hood, but the Sonata has a bonnet.

The Cruiser has tires, so does the Sonata, but they can also be spelled TYRES.

You can adjust a nut on the Cruiser with a wrench, but to do the same thing on the Sonata you would use a spanner.

The Sonata is older, but in ok condition. If it were in disrepair, Kiwis would call it a bomb, Americans would call it a clunker. The Sonata has had its share of dings (which we Americans call fender benders). We had one the other day, and had to go to the Panel Beaters instead of the auto body shop. We had to replace the driver’s side door, because it had a bad prang (dent).

Cars have to be periodically inspected in NZ. If they pass, they get a WOF (Warrant of Fitness), which allows you to keep driving them.

In New Zealand, I could drive the Sonata to a dairy, and park in the car park. In the States, I drive my Cruiser to a convenience store, and park in the parking lot.

Most of the road signs are the same, except for the speeds being in kph. 100 kph seems high to me.  Their “Yield” signs there say “Give Way” instead. Speed bumps are called judder bars.

Now that  we have returned to the States – back to our PT Cruiser – we have fond memories of our times on the road in New Zealand with the Sonata. We will probably use words like “interesting” and “remarkable” to describe the experience.  It has been both.