Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Writing Maine Slang

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in Maine, every thing is "wicked good" instead of "cool"

Maine slang is in some ways similar to other NE slang, but it more closely matches Canadian slang. Also, use of French words, in place of English words (even by English only speakers) is not uncommon, due to the fact that Maine is a predominantly French community. Mainers tend to have a more Canadian and less American accent when they talk, and use grammar pronunciations like the French language rather than the English language, accenting syllables and phrases the way a French Canadian would rather than the way an American would.

Also, you need to understand, that in Maine, it's not just a case of slang. In Maine you are dealing with people who do not like being forced to become Americans simply because America decided to chop off a piece of Quebec and call it the state of Maine.

If you choose to write a Maine character, you'll need a lot more than slang to pull off the "Maine feel". This is referring to Native Mainers (one who was born in Maine, to parents born in Maine, to parents born in Maine.) You must be a third generation Mainer to be considered a Native Mainer, with fifth generation being preferred. Any one born in Maine, with less than a third generation pedigree is considered an "outsider" and is referred to as one who lives in Maine, but not a Native Mainer.

Note too, that Mainers have a bad attitude towards outsiders who come in from other US states. Other countries is one thing, but other US states are not greeted with welcome arms. The Native Maine view of American invaders is very low. Note too, that most "old timers" do not consider themselves to be American and will correct you and say that they are a Mainer not an American. Read on and I'll explain while making note of some of the more common Maine "slang".

Mainers will point , laugh and say you are "a tourist from Mass of 2 Shits" if you use the phrase "You know what I mean?"

multi generation Mainers tend to hate EVERYone whose great grand daddy wasn't born in Maine... and if you left Maine even for the summer you'll get pegged as an "outsider"

lobsta wars between fishing towns get wild and bloody.

note we say lobsta not lobster; everything that ends in -er or -or is pronounced with an -a instead. Stephen King lives in Banga not Bangor.

'r', -'er', and 'h' tend to be dropped.

All sentences end with an "eh?" wither we was asking a question or not: "Nice day we 'a having. eh?"

the become tha

everything is "a getting"

blueberries are bluebear-ras "Looks like tha bluebear-ras 'a getting ripe, eh?"

big stores are always new, even if they've been there for 20 years. In 75% of the towns in Maine it is illegal to build a "big store", so WalMarts and the like a pretty rare outside of York and Cumberlain counties.

"She's 'a getting a new dress down at tha new WalMart"

we never use street names, so no one ever bothers to fix road signs when they fall over or get stolen, cause one one used them anyways.

"Ya take a left at Turn'as Pond, and drive till ya get to tha red house that my grand daddy painted blue five years back, an ya turn down tha dirt road... ya all see the stump where the squirral used ta sit every day? Ya wanna go abouts five miles after that, but tha squiraal got run over by one of thems Mass of 2 Shits tourist drivers so ya won't see him, just tha stump..."

It's said ya not you

we use folk instead of people.

note that if your MC is from out of state and going to school in Maine, she'll get labeled the "new folk" and likely well find no one willing to talk with her, sit with her, or include her.... the rift between native Mainers and "new folks" "tourists" and most esp "folks from Mass of 2 Shits" is big... very very big... and feuding can become bad in the more remote Northern regions shoot-outs with hunting rifles and burning down folks houses is alarmingly common in places like Hansville Woods, Milo, Palmira... my uncle who was from Maine, but moved to Utah for 10 years, and than moved back to Maine, is considered a traitor to his home state and has had his house burned to the ground twice in 4 years). Police are no help and very likely to have been involved. It's not uncommon for the police to respond to such events with comments like "well that's what happens."

In big cities of Southern Maine, like Biddeford, Saco, or Portland, you don't see this kind of thing too much anymore, but in most smaller towns it's still pretty bad. Keep in mind too that most smaller towns have less than 1,000 people living in them, and there can be over a mile between house... Maine is one of the biggest states, but has one of the lower populations. When we say our neighbor down the road, we could mean 5 or 10 miles away.

There is a lot of still unexplored old growth forest in Maine. Mountain people do exist. Many families go for years without contact with non-family members. Uniques family lingo's and weird "twinlige" slang results. This is only seen in the very far North, however, and is not as common as it was 20 years ago.

The only "outsiders" that Maine folk like and welcome are the French Canadians. Every year Maine and Quebec get together and vote to leave the unions and join forces. Every year US gov and Canada gov over throws the votes. Native Mainers hate being part of the US and Quebec hates being part of Canada....

reason: Maine was originally part of Quebec. Quebec being it's own country separate from Canada. In the 1880's Canada and the US ripped Quebec in half and each took a part of it. The lower part became the state of Maine. That happened barely 100 years ago, so there are still a lot of folks alive who remember that Maine was not always a US state, and they feel that the US is a greedy gov and hate being a part of it. THIS is why whenever folks come to Maine from out of state, they get the cold shoulder. As a general rule if you come to Maine from any place in the US outside of Maine, you are going to be treated like an invader, because that's the view Mainers have of outsiders.

Maine is like another country, because 100 years ago, it was another country and most Native Mainers feel that they were not given a choice in the matter when they were suddenly forced to become part of the US.

Never try to write a Mainer character unless you can pull off the anti-non-Mainer attitude, cause it won't be believable

This info comes to you from one who lives on land that was settled by my family in 1657 (who married into the Native tribe, whom lived here thousands of years before that), and we are one of the few families in all of the US that still lives on their original land. My family is very strong in the pro-Maine, anti-outsider movement.

What's your take on this? I'd love to hear what you have to say about this post. Leave a comment and share your views!

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