For a recent story on the arrest of Kim Dotcom, The World's Lisa Mullins turned to Georgina Ball from Radio New Zealand ("Cyber Tycoon Wanted for Internet Piracy Arrested in New Zealand", 1/26/2012). One of the things Ms. Ball says is this:
they're worried he'll flee to Germany which is where he's from
which doesn't have an extradition treaty with the U.S.
English speakers who are not New Zealanders are likely to be struck by the extreme fronting and raising of Ms. Ball's /ɛ/ vowels, those in the DRESS lexical set. A prominent example in that last clip is the vowel in the final syllable of "U.S." — her pronunciation of this vowel is almost as high and front as her pronunciation of the two vowels in treaty, as this spectrogram of "…treaty with the U.S." shows:
The second formant in /ɛs/, traced in red at the position labelled 2 in the plot, levels out at about 2740 Hz. The maximum values of F2 in the two syllables of /ˈtri.ɾi/, at the position labelled 1, are 2560 and 2740. (I note in passing that she has an American-like voiced flap for the medial consonant of treaty.)
Because the word extradition is not phrase-final in this passage, its vowels are less striking to the ear, but they provide an even more interesting illustration of the phenomenon:
For the vowel in the first syllable of extradition, which is also a member of the DRESS lexical set, F2 is at 2800 Hz, as shown at the position labelled 1 in the spectrogram above. In contrast, the vowel in the second syllable of the same word, at the position labelled 2, has an F2 of about 1870 Hz — much backer. (Treaty is again shown at position 3.)
This is partly consistent and partly inconsistent with what Wikipedia (citing authoritative sources) says about recent changes in New Zealand short front vowels:
In New Zealand English the short-i of KIT is a central vowel not phonologically distinct from schwa /ə/, the vowel in unstressed "the". It thus contrasts sharply with the [i] vowel heard in Australia. [...] Because of this difference in pronunciation, some New Zealanders claim Australians say "feesh and cheeps" for fish and chips while some Australians counter that New Zealanders say "fush and chups".
The short-e /ɛ/ of YES has moved to fill in the space left by /ɪ/, and it is phonetically in the region of [ɪ]. This was played for laughs in the American TV series Flight of the Conchords, where the character Bret's name was often pronounced as "Brit," leading to confusion.
Specifically, in Ms. Ball's speech we see the vowel of YES moving not merely forward and up to [ɪ], but well beyond [ɪ] to [i]. And we don't see much centralization of her KIT vowels. In her pronunciation of extradition we saw little change, while (for example) in her rendition of internet we see the initial KIT vowel taking up the phonetic place of the DRESS vowel of the final syllable, which again shoots past [ɪ] to [i], so that [ˈɪn.təˌnɛt] becomes roughly [ˈɛn.təˌnit]:
A closer focus on the word internet itself:
"When it is tried in America":
"So we understand this is going to be a big test case":
"… from this web site":
Her "flight risk", illustrating again the relatively small movement of the KIT vowel in risk:
Her "assets frozen":
And the whole interview: