A Conversation for 'Downeast', Maine, USA

Speaking "downeast"

Post 1


Since I spent my first 40 years in southern Maine, I had a mild downeast accent. (People further up the coast have progressively heavier accents.) For instance, I would pronounce "that there" as "that thay-ah".

I moved to the Pittsburgh area, where locals tend to drop th's from their words. After a bit, I picked up some of that accent. As I hadn't lost all of my downeast, I was pretty unintelligable. "That there" became "at ay-ah". The end result was well developed vocal cords from having to repeat myself so often.

My partner, who speaks Cantonese, regular English, downeast, and Pittsburgese, claims my downeast accent returns whenever we vacation back in Maine. But people "back home" can tell by my corrupted speech patterns that I'm now "from away".

Speaking "downeast"

Post 2


I just wanted to add to this stream of consciousness that there are other collequiallisms to Speaking "maine". For instance:

1. If you are to take your car into a mechanic (heaven help you) and ask the otherwise normal question of "When do you think it will be ready?" Your reply is "Aya' when i get to it." Apparently, mainers (or maniacs as I have affectionately heard them called) have lost their accute sense of time. Again heaven help you if your car breaks.

2. Also, be very, very careful about the way in which you ask questions. Make all your questions very direct and to the point. Mainers have a way of finding every possible "out" to any question. This could solve many freakish headaches and frustration. Example:
Customer walks into a hotel
Customer: Do you have any rooms?
Hotel Clerk: Ayup.
Customer: Well can I have a room please.
Hotel Clerk: Nope, All filled up

And thus the onset of the freakish headache and frustration begins. To the mainer, he/she was merely answering the question to which you asked. Why yes of course we have rooms, the customer just didn't ask the right question of any vacant rooms.

3. And for my personal favorite. Never, ever ask for directions. Not only does the freakish headache come back, but now its mixed with a wonderful state of confusion. I will now put in a personal experience, albeit the names have been changed to protect the innocent, to better explain this phenomenon.
Traveller: Can please tell me how to get to Route 1?
Police Officer: Well, where ya comin from son?
I never really understood how that had any bearing on where I wanted to go, but apparently it does to the mainer.
Traveller: (with onset of freakish headache beginning) Um, I was heading south on 297.
Police Officer: Nope, ya can't get there-ah from here-ah, no sir ya can't get there-ah from here-ah.

And then the officer proceeds to tell you exactly how to get from "here-ah" to "there-ah." Apparently, as it was explained to me. The phrase is said because on the current road/course heading, whatever, I can not get to my desired destination. Thus "ya can't get there-ah from here-ah" begins to make sense in only a mainer logic can.

In conclusion, I hope that this addition helps those traveling to the great state of Maine. It truly is God's Country. It's wonderfully beautiful. However, depending on what side of it your on, so is their logic.


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