I am a snob.  I am an American snob. This post is about the difference between American English and New Zealand English, which are bastardized versions of British English1. I don’t mind, because bastards are interesting2.

So, if you were born in India, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, Australia, Ireland or New Zealand, remember I say words like aluminum and zucchini whereas you say aluminium and courgette3. Now, the first verb:

to feed    
verb,  fed, feed·ing, feeds

Note, this is a verb. It can be used as a noun (like chicken feed), but first and foremost, it is a verb. For example, I want to feed the baby. I need to feed the cows. Should we feed the fish? Yet somewhere, somehow, some Kiwi butchered this verb and said:

Are you hungry? Let’s have a feed.

How irritating. But, it is listed as a noun in the American Heritage Dictionary (you’re lucky this time). Now, the second verb:

to sleep   
slept, sleep·ing

Again, this is a verb. Note the infinitive. For example, I want to sleep. The dog is sleeping. Yet somewhere, somehow, some Kiwi swallowed this verb and a day or two later (give or take) shat this:

I’m going to have a sleep.

Why! Dear God! Why would anyone say this? What’s even worse, is that they enjoy the sound this makes as it hits the water in the toilet! How vulgar! Someone, somewhere, please explain this to me! Even Google failed to offer me an explanation. I don’t know why this bothers me so much.

Maybe I need a new hobby.

1. This idea was hard to admit.
2. For example, Leonardo da Vinci and Alexander Hamilton were bastards. Even Einstein fathered an illegitimate child.
3. Courgette is terribly French, wouldn’t you say?


12 Responses to Using verbs as nouns

  1. Kim says:

    I have to admit that when our friend, Daniel (an Aussie), stayed with us a couple of weeks ago he reeled of the “have a feed” and all I could think about were barnyard animals. My advice to you: think of it as saying “have a snack” which is something Americans say all of the time. Maybe it will make you feel better…but not likely.

    AND it’s not nearly as bad as your fellow Americans saying things like heigTH or acrosT.

    News of the ridiculous, with video!

  2. Jeff says:

    I think of barnyard animals too. That video of Karl Rove is painful…

    Using snack instead of feed is a good idea, and using nap instead of sleep makes me feel better. I don’t remember Americans saying acrost? Is that from the midwest or is that southern?

  3. Kim says:

    That’s Marcus. Makes my teeth hurt–another Marcusism.

  4. Chris says:

    A lot of Kiwis (and people from all nationalities mind) have atrocious grammar, pronunciation, literacy etc… including Americans – look no further than your “leader.”

    Anyway, I often eat zucchini when I want to eat some food and usually have a sleep after opening aluminium cans.

    Pfft, it’s morning tea time & I’m off to have a feed.

  5. Chris says:

    Why do I post this at 9:50 am & the time says 2:50 pm when I post this in the same country you write the blog from????

  6. Jeff says:

    Chris, I think the difference is in New Zealand it is not incorrect (in fact acceptable, common) to say have a feed, or have a sleep. And this isn’t bad! Just notable.

    This blog’s clock is set to the international date line, I think. I don’t want to set it to Wellington time!

  7. Rich says:


  8. Jeff says:

    Conj. Chiefly British. It means while! While damn you!

  9. Jeff says:

    Update: Kiwis often say, “Five sleeps until my birthday,” or, “Two sleeps until Christmas,” as well. How shocking! Also, note you will only hear these sentences in New Zealand – meaning even the British don’t use sleep as a noun. (Thanks to Rich for pointing this out).

  10. Chris says:

    Us Kiwis are (here’s a new word for the Brits)…creative!!

  11. [...] to use verbs and nouns, e.g. “have a feed” [...]

  12. Gregg says:

    It’s WE Kiwis are . . . not US Kiwis. I believe you’ve just made the point about atrocious grammar.