I had some trepidation about commenting on this sensitive subject because Mainers (themselves) don’t find their accent “funny” or their “ways” peculiar. They are proud of their “Yankee savvy and practicality.” They talk the way their parents and neighbors talked… when they were growing up. I suppose the same is true of Southerners who speak with a languishing drawl.
It’s really not hard to talk like a Mainer after you master the ubiquitous “Ay-yup.” This often-mimicked expression of old-time Mainers is a conversational response word to declare “I understand what you’re saying” or as a suffix sound at the end of almost every utterance of pure Mainers that means “that’s the way I see it!”.
Other than “Ay-yup,” the only thing that you need to know is that words spelled with an “er” on the end of the word are pronounced as if they were spelled with an “ah” at the end of the word. For example, “weather” is pronounced as if it were spelled “weath-ah.” Conversely, words ending in an “a” are pronounced as if they were spelled with an “er” on the end of the word rather than an “a.” For example, “Area” is pronounced “aire-er.” As a general rule, an “r” within a word is not pronounced as an accented “r,” but more often as the word “are.” Thus, you “pahk” the car rather than “parrr-ark” the car.
I share this with you so that you don’t get confused when talking to a true “Down East Mainer” – rather than something you should try to copy. A strong Maine accent is especially prevalent along the Maine Coast, but Native Massachusetts people often speak with the same intonation – remember President Kennedy’ Bostonian accent?
Mainers are “brief” in their conversational utterances and responses. “Nope” and “Yup” are readily used for “Yes” and “No.” There seems to be a reluctance to be verbose. Consequently, Mainers are excellent listeners, but you usually have to wait a while for the pondered response to be uttered. Mainers love to “tell stories” that typify their “imprinted Yankee philosophy.” If you find yourself in one of these situations, just listen attentively and don’t interrupt. When they are finished, don’t give an opinion; just say “I enjoyed your sharing that story with me” and smile your appreciation.
Well, those are my suggestions and explanations. Better that you come to Maine and experience it for yourself. It’s delightfully charming and quaint. Remember, Mainers consider themselves to be “twenty years behind the times – in the right direction.”
Living in Maine might make you a much happier person!