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Speak Like a Mainer

Vacationing in Maine? Here's How to Sound Like a Native Mainah


Planning a Maine vacation? Start here.

When I left Maine to go to college out west, I was teased unmercifully about my Maine accent. Tired of constantly being asked to say "pahk the cah at the curb," or "Muthah, Fathah, where's the cah?" I made an effort to speak without an accent. Now, years later, once again living in Maine (and determined never to live anywhere else), I'm still trying to get my Maine accent back. If you're in the same shoes, or you're a visitor to Maine and would like to be able to fit in with the natives, here are a few tips on how to speak like a Mainah.

The key is to relax your jaw. Say "Mainer." Notice the tension in your jaw and how it opens only slightly. Now say "Mainah," letting your lower jaw drop on the "ah" paht (er, I mean "part"). Practice saying it in an exaggerated manner to get the feel. Now you're ready for the rules of Mainespeak.

  1. Words that end in "er" are pronounced "ah." Mainer = Mainah. Car = Cah. Mother and Father = Muthah and Fathah. Water = Watah. You get the drift.

  2. Conversely, words that end in "a" are sometimes, but not always, pronounced "er." California becomes Californier. Idea becomes idear. Yoga becomes Yoger.

  3. Drop the "g" in "ing." Stopping and starting = stoppin' and startin', or more correctly, stoppin' and stahtin'.

  4. Broaden a and e sounds. Calf becomes cahf. Bath becomes bahth. Can't becomes cahn't.

  5. Drag out some one-syllable words into two syllables. There becomes they-uh. Here becomes hee-ah.

For a sample (no pun intended) of the Maine dialect, go to Maine humorist Tim Sample's Web site, and click on a few of the video clips.

Getting the accent down is not all there is to speaking like a Mainah. You also need to learn some Maine lingo. Here are a few of my favorite Maine words or phrases:

Apiece: An undetermined distance: He lives down the road apiece.

Ayuh: Yup. Sure. Okay. That's right. You Bet.

Bug: Lobster

Cah: A four wheel vehicle, not a truck.

Chowdah: Chowder

Crittah: Any furry animal

Cunnin': Cute

Finest Kind: The very best

From Away: Not from Maine

Gawmy: Awkward or clumsy

Numb: Dumb. Stupid.

Pot: Lobster Trap

Prayer Handle: Knee

Quahog: Thick-shelled clam (pronounced co-hog)

Scrid: A tiny piece

Steamers: Clams

Wicked: Very. To a high degree, such as wicked good, wicked bad, wicked exciting, etc.

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