The New Zealand version of English - Kiwinglish, as I call it - continues to trip me up and surprise me.
I've pointed out the intricasies of Kiwinglish before, here, here, more here, more, and yet more here. It's a difficult linguistic jig to dance.
This week I came across a couple of pugilistic references that stopped me in my tracks. The first referred to something called a "hell-bashing." Now, it's pretty obvious what that means - the perpetrators beat a man into a coma from which he did not recover. But the fact that the phrase was in the headline, the lead and was used in a quote by one of the victim's relatives seemed to accord it an official, almost semi-legal status.
The reference might have gone unnoticed except that on a different day, in a different paper, I read of a separate stomping and learned another expression. This beating took place outside a club in Auckland. A young teen-ager was saved by a quick-thinking guard who probably prevented him from being killled.
The teen-ager "tried to stop the fight but was king-hit by one of the group and fell to the road." Again, I understand that a "king hit" is a pretty vicious weapon in the street-fighting arsenal, as the kid was put out cold. But I'd never heard of a king-hit before.
When I was growing up, people were just knocked out and had the crap beaten out of them. Hell-bashings and king hits leads me to believe there's a whole lexicon of confrontation of which I'm unaware.
A bit of niggling on the field.
Then, last night, I was watching a Rugby match and there were players, well, beating the crap out of each other. But the commentators referred to the set-to as "a bit of niggling." I saw elbows going to faces, noses buckling a little. On that scale, this fellow, at right, was probably the victim of some rough housing after being "sledged," which, I gather, is trash-talking.
Before I proceed with my research, though, I'd like to coin "crown prince hit" for a punch that takes out a tooth. I need to look into this nuanced language of the fight - and I promise you I will.
My linguistic inquisitions have been noticed here. Travelling abroad always turns me into a child. "Why?" and "How come?" and "What's the history behind that?" are questions that just sort of pour out of me. My Kiwi interlocuters are kind and tolerant, but I know it's bloody annoying. At a recent re-union of folks who went through the Christchurch earthquake together, we were all issued name tags with new nicknames earned during the trip. Mine was Adrian "what's a braided river?" Pratt after a particularly annoying and persistent interrogation on my part about the geographical make-up of the Southern Alps. What can I do, I am forever a student?
And Kiwinglish is harder than it appears.