How to Talk Like A Mainer!

Dedicated to "the son-in-law".

 

Go Heeya ta' sahbmit yah Maynah wurds.

Go heeya ta' see sahmitted wurds.
 

Native Mainers are said to have the most original accent of all other Americans.  I'm not sure just why they say this, but it could be that the English settlers, once they discovered Maine's harsh climate, they kinda froze in time.  Speaking lots, or speaking little...who knows.  Mainers are also said to speak very quickly.  It is said that Mainers do everything fast, always in a hurry, so apparently, speaking follows suit.  Al Harrington (Ben on Hawaii Five-O), says that Mainers do everything fast because they don't know when the next snowstorm will arrive.  Others say, it's always so cold in Maine that the inhabitants have to keep moving, finding something to do to stay warm...gotta keep that blood flowing, you know.   A guy I know from Arizona states he heard that Mainers are very hardy people.  That always left me to wonder if he meant Hearty, or Hardy.  I get the feeling that he meant big, rugged Samoan-like build, but possibly, it could also be a compliment in acknowledging that Mainers are known to have big hearts.  Probably both in the hearty way, and due to our hardy ways.  Or, is it, in the hardy way, due to our hearty ways?  Whichever the case, Mainers are unique in lifestyle and in verbal folklore.  We are a hardy-hearty bunch!

The purpose of this page is to offer "others" a bit of understanding of how we speak.   Once we open our mouths, people know where we're from. Sometimes, they are confused, and ask because they can't understand a damn thing we say.  I've heard quotes, such as this one, 'I couldn't understand a thing your family said!  They could have called my family every name in the book and I would have just stood shaking my head yes!'  This, said from a guy from Arkansas.  Apparently, the guy didn't realize that we couldn't understand much of what he was saying either, but was later somewhat translated for us.

Our son-in-law is from the same town as where Paul and I grew up, and just recently brought our strong Maine accents to our attention. Paul and I just looked at each other, stunned.  "Really?" was our reply.   This really surprised us, because we lived out of state for eleven years, and really didn't think we adopted the Maine accent in the 13 years we've been back in Maine.  Apparently we have, for after our grandchildren spend time with us (upon our retreat from unorganized territory), the girls go home and, like true Mainers, had naturally adopted our Maine accent without even knowing it.  For some reason, it takes days or weeks to retrain the girls to avoid the natural and tugging Maine accent in their blood.  Since they brought our accent to our attention, it has become obvious, even to me, that my Maine accent is probably here to stay, as I'm not interested in moving into a move civilized area of the nation.  However, out of respect for the girls' child rearing, I will try hard to forego my Maine accent (in their presence), so they are more suited to the rest of the world.   Oddly enough, our son-in-law does not have an accent what-so-ever, but you wait, I'll find it somewhere, some day, in something he says...and will call him on it.  hehehe

Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

Maine English

The Maine accent (commonly referred to as the "Downeast accent") is the accent exhibited by Mainers (people who inhabit the state of Maine). Used by dialect comedians like Tim Sample and Bob Marley and considered directly linked to British English, the Maine accent has a varied, but distinctive sound.

Many variations of the Maine accent exist. Generally, the dropped 'r' pronunciations once became stronger the further north and east. Currently, as in many other areas, the local dialects are shifting to a more accent-neutral form, similar to the general U.S. broadcast language standard. Possibly because of its more remote setting, northern Maine's dialects are not changing as rapidly.

  • Words that end in "er" are pronounced with "ah" at the end; i.e., Mainer = "Mainah," far = "fah," etc. (see also non-rhotic.)
  • Words that end in "a" are often pronounced with "er" at the end; i.e., California becomes "Californier," idea becomes "idear," etc. (see also intrusive R.)
  • The Maine accent drops the "g" in all words ending in "ing;" i.e., stopping and starting = "stoppin'" and "stahtin'," etc. (No "g" sound is actually dropped, as none is present in such words in General American. Rather the sound of the final consonant is changed from a velar nasal to an alveolar nasal, which is the normal sound for "n." See G-dropping.)
  • All "a" and "e" sounds broaden; i.e., calf becomes "cahf," bath becomes "bahth," etc.
  • Most one-syllable words drag out into two syllables; i.e., there becomes "they-uh," here becomes "hee-ah," etc.
  • Words that end in "y" or "ie" are pronounced with "ay" at the end; i.e., Kathy="Kath-ay," quickly="quick-lay," etc. (E.B. White, "Maine Speech," One Man's Meat, 1944.)

Generally, the Maine accent exhibits non-rhoticity, but such is not the case for every occurrence of the letter 'R.' For example, "murdered" could be pronounced "murdihd," where the second "r" and the past tense are merged together; this is dependent on how thick the speaker's accent is. Another variation is "murdehd."

Non-rhoticity typically is not used if a "u" precedes the "r." For example, "further" can be pronounced as "furthah," while "farther" can be pronounced "fahthah," eliminating both instances of "r." This is not the case if the "-ur" occurs at the end of the spoken word. "Wilbur" would be pronounced "Wilbah" or "Wilber," with heavy emphasis on pronouncing the "-er" such as it were spelled "Wilbr."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pronounciation (Maine style):
(Example:   Hahvahd Yahd)

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