The Maine accent is the local traditional accent of Eastern New England English spoken in parts of Maine, especially along the "Down East" and "Mid Coast" seaside regions.[1] It is characterized by a variety of features, particularly among older speakers, including r-dropping (non-rhoticity), resistance to the horse–hoarse merger,[2] and a deletion or "breaking" of certain syllables. The traditional Maine accent is rapidly declining; a 2013 study of Portland speakers found the older horse–hoarse merger to be currently embraced by all ages; however, it also found the newer cot–caught merger to be resisted,[3] despite the latter being typical among other Eastern New England speakers, even well-reported in the 1990s in Portland itself.[2] The merger is also widely reported elsewhere in Maine as of 2018, particularly outside the urban areas.[4] In the northern region of Maine along the Quebec and the New-Brunswick border, Franco-Americans may show French-language influences in their English.[5] Certain vocabulary is also unique to Maine.


Maine English often features phonetic change or phonological change of certain characteristics. One such characteristic is that, like in all traditional Eastern New England English, Maine English pronounces the "r" sound only when it comes before a vowel, but not before a consonant or in any final position. For example, "car" may sound to listeners like "cah" and "Mainer" like "Mainah."[6]

Also, as in much New England English, the final "-ing" ending in multi-syllable words sounds more like "-in," for example, in stopping [ˈstɒpɪn] and starting [ˈstaʔɪn].[6]

Vowels of the Maine accent
Front Central Back
lax tense lax tense lax tense
Close ɪ i ʊ u
Mid ɛ ə ɜ ʌ
Open æ a ɒ
Diphthongs   ɔɪ  

The Maine accent follows the pronunciation of Eastern New England English, like the Boston accent, but with the following additional features:


The traditional Maine dialect has a fairly rich vocabulary. Much of this vocabulary is shared with other New England dialects, however some of it is specific to Maine. This vocabulary includes, but is not limited to, the following terms:

In popular culture


  1. ^ Wolfram, Walt; Ward, Ben (eds.) (2006). American Voices: How dialects differ from coast to coast. Malden, MA; Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. p. 73.
  2. ^ a b Labov, William; Ash, Sharon; Boberg, Charles (2006), The Atlas of North American English, Berlin: Mouton-de Gruyter, pp. 226–7, ISBN 3-11-016746-8
  3. ^ Ryland, Alison (2013). "A Phonetic Exploration of the English of Portland, Maine". Swarthmore College.
  4. ^ Kim, Chaeyoon et al. (2018). "Bring on the crowd ! Using online audio crowdsourcing for large-scale New England dialectology and acoustic sociophonetics". American Speech Volume 94, Issue 2. Duke University Press.
  5. ^ Wolfram, Walt; Ward, Ben (eds.) (2006). American Voices: How dialects differ from coast to coast. Malden, MA; Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. p. 74-75.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Fowles (2015)
  7. ^ a b c d VisitMaine (2015)
  8. ^ a b c d Norman, Abby (June 2015). "The Outta Statah's Guide to Maine Slang". BDN. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  9. ^ Mallard, Bob. "The Mythical Blueback Trout of Maine". Orvis News. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  10. ^ a b c Thieme, Emma. "The 25 Funniest Expressions in Maine". matador network. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  11. ^ Erard, Michael. "What it Means to Talk Like a Mainer". Down East. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i Reid, Lindsay Ann. "English in Maine: The Mythologization and Commodification of a Dialect". University of Toronto. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  13. ^ Burnham, Emily (March 8, 2012). "Dictionary includes words only a Mainer would use". BDN. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c Fowles, Debby. "Speak like a Mainer". about travel. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  15. ^ Kayorie, James Stephen Merritt (2019). "John Neal (1793–1876)". In Baumgartner, Jody C. (ed.). American Political Humor: Masters of Satire and Their Impact on U.S. Policy and Culture. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 90. ISBN 9781440854866.
  16. ^ Fleischmann, Fritz (1983). A Right View of the Subject: Feminism in the Works of Charles Brockden Brown and John Neal. Erlangen, Germany: Verlag Palm & Enke Erlangen. p. 145. ISBN 9783789601477.
  17. ^ Sears, Donald A. (1978). John Neal. Twayne's United States Author Series. Boston, Massachusetts: Twayne Publishers. p. 92. ISBN 9780805772302.