How to Talk
Like A Mainer!
Dedicated to "the
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
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
The Maine accent (commonly referred to as the "Downeast
accent") is the accent exhibited by Mainers (people
who inhabit the state of
Used by dialect comedians like
Tim Sample and
Bob Marley and considered directly linked to
British English, the Maine accent has a varied, but
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
- Words that end in "a" are often pronounced with "er" at
the end; i.e.,
California becomes "Californier," idea becomes "idear,"
etc. (see also
- 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
- 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."
Due to recent Spam-Bots, I've added a "required" field below. If the
spamming continues, I'll have you submit your words to me, and I'll put them up
as they come in. Thanks!