… at the Christchurch Writers Festival: a Kiwi, an Ozzie and a Chinese man. They settle in with their cabernet sauvignons to debate that age-old question: Do we write English differently depending on where we were born? Of course there are many weighty tomes on this subject and a few gazillion linguistics dissertations to boot. But you need go no further than The Press Christchurch Writers Festival this week to get some mighty fine opportunities to come to grips with this topic of our times.
At the festival there are several events which will be of interest in this regard:
- Made in New Zealand where three New Zealand Writers: Bruce Ansley, David McPhail and Roger Hall consider the influence that location has on their lives and their writing.
- English As She is Spoke in which Elizabeth Gordon will also give us a Kiwi slant on this topic.
- Chinese Reflections with Alison Wong, Ouyang Yu and Jane Carswell will no doubt add to the debate.
- The Lucky Country which asks the perplexing question “Is there a peculiarly Australian perspective to Australian writing?”. Emily Maguire, Ouyang Yu and Kirsten Reed all make contributions to this event.
At the pub the three men meet a very nice South African lady (drinking Pinotage of course) who slides a slip of paper across the bar counter and asks: OK, which country do you think this quote comes from?
There is a lovely road that runs from **** into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.
If you’ve not read this book, it is almost impossible to identify the country. What do you think, could you identify a piece of Kiwi writing which has no obvious geographic references? Would you just know? Do you have some quotes you’d like to share?