Speaking Mainish: Wicked Good Stuff

Typebars in a 1920s typewriter

Language Lessons—the Mainish way. ... Image via Wikipedia

I’m a native Mainuh (that’s Mainish for “Mainer,” a person from Maine), and you might’ve heard that we talk a bit differently. It’s true, and it’s something we have a lot of fun with, especially when talking with “people from away” (that’s what we Mainuhs call people who aren’t from Maine). So I wanted to offer, for all the uninitiated, a brief intro to the great language I call Mainish.

The best-known aspect of Mainish is that Rs at the end of syllables or words aren’t enunciated. So for example, “car” becomes “cah,” “park” becomes “pahk,” and “carpenter” becomes “cahpentah.” Other notable examples: “lobster” is “lobstah,” “Bar Harbor” (a famous coastal Maine tourist destination) becomes “Bah Hahbah,” and “Wal-Mart” becomes “Wal-Maht.”

Mainuhs, along with other New Englandahs (that’s “New Englanders” to all you people from away), are also known for saying “wicked,” but not in the way anyone else says it. For most people, “wicked” means bad, evil, mean, villainous or nefarious, or something else along that line, but for Mainuhs, “wicked” means “very” or “really.” For example, “I had a wicked good time at the pahty (party) the othuh (other) night.” This person is saying, “I had a very (or really) good time.”

These are the two most crucial components to Mainish, but there are other aspects as well, including a couple of key, often-used phrases. The first has to do with “dressing your feet.” A lot of people outside New England haven’t heard of this, but not only is some form of this expression used often, it’s also accurate, and something a lot of people never think about: when you put on shoes, you are in fact “dressing” your feet, just like you would dress any other part of your body. So you might hear a Mainuh say, “Get your feet dressed,” or “Let me get my feet dressed,” or “Let me dress my feet.” Weird, but true.

Another phrase you’re likely to hear if you ever visit the Pine Tree State: “You can’t get there from here” (“You can’t get theyah from heyah”). I realize it sounds a bit … nonsensical—after all, no matter where you’re at (Point A), isn’t there always a way to get from there to Point B? Well, yes, strictly speaking, but what’s being said in this phrase isn’t that you literally can’t get from Point A to Point B; what’s being said is that none of the roads immediately accessible at your current location (Point A) will take you directly to Point B; you’ll have to take some additional roads between the one you’re on and the one you’re trying to get to. For example, if you’re in the Maine capital, Augusta, none of the primary arteries out of town—routes 3, 17, 105, 201, and Interstate 95—will take you directly to the quaint village of Weeks Mills. Some of those main routes, though, will take you relatively close to there, and then it’s a matter of taking some other main routes and/or back roads to reach your destination.

I think I hit all the main points, so that’s enough Mainish for now; maybe I’ll offer more in the future, but I hope you enjoy this for now!

Class dismissed. =)


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