July 4, 2007
>>> The Maine I Remember
Some Down-East Humor
- Tiger Software's Creator
(C) 2007 William Schmidt, Ph. D. -
All Rights Reserved.
No reproductions of this blog or quoting from it
without explicit written consent by its author is
Send any comments or questions
July 4, 2007
"Have you lived here all your life?"
Answer: "Not yet."
I got a very nice note from a customer in Maine. He said he
liked my blog and the jokes
I passed along. That made my day and made me think of
Maine. On this day of Independence,
I think it's good to think back over what is special about
And I realize I love Maine, at least as I have idealized it,
having only seen it in the summer
and mostly in my youth. Even now I remember driving up from
Boston and excitedly crossing the
state line. .This is what I saw.
Of course, I never had to put up with the cold Winters and
engines that would not start,
or the back-breaking task of making a living there, far away from big cities. But I
from the the first clam bake and juicy lobster, to the the scenic Bar Harbor ferry
rise, the epoch
fifteen minute struggle to land the 5 pound, 21" small-mouth bass I
caught on a 'flatfish" lure
which I was trolling 150 feet behind my canoe in the middle of Pocamoonshine Lake.
And how I remember the invigorating 58 degree ocean swim in July to a Maine tidal
And I think of the start of Longfellow's poem, Evangeline:
"This is the forest primeval.
The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green,
indistinct in the twilight."
I think of such creative
"Mainers", like John Ford the film director,
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poet from Portland,
Stephen King writer, from Portand and now lives in Bangor,
Edna St. Vincent Millay poet and Walter Piston composer, Rockland.
Down-East humor. A recurrent theme is the country "bumpkin"
who must fend off the arrogance of an often pompous urbanite, often from
For example, a tourist pulls up in his shiny BMW and shouts to the
front of the general store, "How do you get to Bangor?" The
"My father takes me." Or if he's feeling a little onery,
after an overlong silence,
the Mainer replies, "Can't get there from here.",
meaning that no matter how hard
he tries, the tourist will never see and feel things as a Mainer would.
is more subtle.)
Another tourist came along and asks
for directions to Sugarloaf, the ski area.
The Mainer answers, "Go down the road a mile, and turn left at the
store and stop there".
The tourist replies, "Wow. It's that close?". "No."
says the Mainer with a pause for
a couple of seconds, "But they sell maps there."
| The Maine Farmer and the Trooper
Maine farmer got pulled
over by a Maine State trooper for speeding.
The trooper started to lecture the farmer about his speed and in general, began to
weight around to try to make the farmer uncomfortable.
Finally, the trooper got around to writing out the ticket. As he was doing it, he kept
at some flies that were buzzing around his head.
The farmer said, "Havin' some problems with circle flies there, are Ya?"
The trooper stopped writing the ticket and said--"Well, yeah, if that's what they
I never heard of circle flies ."
So the old Maine farmer
says, "Well, circle flies are common on farms. See, they're called
circle flies 'cause they're almost always found circlin' around the back end of a horse.
The trooper says, "Oh," and goes back to writing the ticket.
Then after a minute he stops and says, "Hey...wait a minute, are you trying to
call me a horse's ass?"
The farmer says, "Oh no, officer. I have too much respect for law enforcement and
officers to even think about calling you a horse's ass."
The trooper says, "Well, that's a good thing," and goes back to writing the
After a long pause, the farmer says, "Hard to fool them flies, though."
Bert and I
I think of the "Bert and I" recordings I
used to listen to. Interestingly, these were
made by twoYale students who were not from Maine. But they capture the spirit
and I love the exaggerated accent. Get them at http://www.bertandi.net/
Listen to the comedy of Bob Marley.
As you may know, I love accents. I grew up in
southern Ohio, and used to hitch-hike home
from schools. I found that if I talked more like the person picking me
up, I could often get them
to drive me closer to where I wanted to go. That's where I learned my
twang for Hank Williams
songs. I can do quite a few accents. Of couse, I like
a "Downeast Accent". You can read more
about this below and from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maine_accent
- Words that end in "er" are pronounced with "ah" at the end; i.e.
Mainer = Mainah, far = fah, etc.
Drop-R ...Denerally, the the Maine accent exhibits drop-R phonetics, but is not the case for every
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.'
Drop-R 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.'
- Words that end in "a" are often pronounced with "er" at the end;
becomes Californier, idea becomes idear, etc.
- Drop the "g" in all words ending in "ing." 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.)
- Broaden all "a" and "e" sounds; i.e. calf becomes cahf, bath becomes
- Drag out most one-syllable words into two syllables; i.e. there becomes they-uh, here
becomes hee-ah, etc.
Do you know these words?
- Apiece: Some distance, sometimes a segment of time.
- Bug: Lobster.
- Finest kind: The very best around, also a drug reference.
- Car: An automobile.
- Dite: A small amount.
- Flatlandah: Someone "from away" (or from the "flatlands",
specifically referring to nearby Southern New England and
urbanized states like Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, etc.)
- Gahwd: God.
- Gawmy: Awkward or clumsy.
- Irregardless: Regardless, with a Maine twist
- Numbin' 'round / dubbin' aroun': Hanging out, not doing anything important
- Prayer Handle: Knee. (rare)
- Scrid: A tiny piece of something.
- Scridgens: Many tiny pieces or remnants of
- Figger: Figure, as in "'ow do you figger"
- The County: Referring to Aroostook County
- idn't: isn't
- wadn't: wasn't
- Maineson/Dixon line: Colloquial/jokingly, a line of latitude drawn through Bangor
(rhymes with Al Gore in the North, South dropped 'r'). Used to demonstrate supposed
"real Maine" and "North Massachusetts" in a general manner. Many
Northern residents sense a separation of culture from Southern Maine, as many people are
moving in from away.
- tater/dader/budader: potato
- beans: sweet baked beans, also: medicine/pills, sometimes testicles.
- beanhole baked beans: beans baked in a hole full of coals. This is a popular pastime and
community event in The County.
- goowud: good
Have a Safe and Happy Fourth of July.