Martine Rolls: My resolution difficult to fathom

By Martine Rolls


So the Green Party has launched an online competition asking New Zealanders to vote for the best beach in the country. What a cool idea, and the website bestbeaches.org.nz looks good, too.

But why the Greens, I thought, until I found out that the poll also aims to draw attention deep sea oil drilling and the potential risk this poses to our favourite places.

You actually have to vote in the poll to get more information, which is a clever call to action.

The information you see after voting for your favourite beach is that New Zealand's deepest producing offshore well is in 125m of water, but the Government has recently sold permits to conduct drilling in waters as deep as 2750m.

"If we had a leak from a deep sea oil rig, the damage to New Zealand's marine environment, our coastline, economy and our reputation would be catastrophic," I am quoting from the site, and I'm sure it would make the Rena disaster look like peanuts.

At this stage and even after my vote, the Mount rates as the second-best beach in the poll. Another one of my favourites, Ohope Beach, is listed third on the leader board but both places here in the sunny Bay are still quite a few votes behind Kaiteriteri.

I've been just about all around New Zealand, but had never heard of Kaiteriteri. I looked it up on Google and found out it's in the South Island, about an hour away from Nelson. The beach looks stunning, and I bet you it's less crowded than the Mount.

I must admit that I had to read the name Kaiteriteri three or four times before I could pronounce it but as Maori is phonetic, I usually manage quite well. Being Dutch helps, as our own language has so many strange and some might say harsh sounds, that the Dutch can pronounce practically anything.

I've always been terrible with French, while most of my countrymen and women speak it rather well. I found English easy to learn as verbs hardly conjugate; nouns pluralise easily, and there are no genders to worry about.

The only things I struggle with in English are medical terms, but those are Latin or Greek words anyway so don't count in my book.

Since I was on Google anyway, I looked up what languages were easy to learn for English speakers. Apparently, Afrikaans is the easiest. That of course, is very much like Dutch.

The website matadornetwork.com tells me that Afrikaans and English both derive from the West Germanic language family, and that phonetics and pronunciation are comfortable for English speakers.

In Afrikaans, there is no conjugation of verbs and the grammar is easy, which can definitely not be said of Dutch.

Other languages that are easy to learn for English speakers are Danish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish. Then on the bottom of the list, I find something interesting.

There is an honourable mention for Frisian. Frisian, or Fries, is the language that the people in the province of Friesland speak, which is in the far north of my home country. It's an official language, but no one else in the Netherlands understands a word of it.

Growing up in Gorinchem (try to pronounce that), we had neighbours who came from Friesland. I tried hard but honestly didn't have a clue what they were rattling on about when they spoke to each other.

Apparently, Frisian is linguistically the closest language to English, as it hails from the same subfamily of West Germanic languages.

The example given for good English and good Fries is "good butter and good cheese", "goed buter en goed tsiis" in Frisian. Phonetically, that is practically identical.

As for New Year resolutions, I might learn a new language myself this year. It's a language I know the basics of, but would love to become fluent in as it would be very useful for my work with websites.

The language on my wish list is XHTML, which stands for Extensible HyperText Markup Language. It's the code in which web pages are written.

If I master it, people could then rightfully call me a geek. Maybe I'll grab a copy of XHTML for Dummies with the Bayfair gift voucher I found under the Christmas tree. Happy New Year, and wish me luck.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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