Friday, November 22, 2013

Wicked smart, sport

Sometimes when I meet people they say "Oh, you have an accent! Where are you from?" I tell them "Newmarket." They say "No, that's not it!" I say "Lincoln, Maine." They say "No, you sound...Irish or something."

This has happened on the last 3 or 4 first dates in a row. I have no idea what's happening (both in terms of the accent or everything else--I'm really nailing this whole "being a grown-up" thing). I think I'm just speaking slowly and clearly, because I have a tendency to talk too quickly and stammer, and I must be pronouncing a vowel funny. Especially if I've been pregaming in my car before the date because I'm a wreck.

I would never do that.

So anyway. This leads to a discussion of my heritage and that I don't seem to have a "Maine accent."

I guess I don't, though I must have when I was little. And there are, in fact, different Maine accents. The one I grew up with is, to my ears, pretty different from the "Down East" sound of Bert and I or Tim Sample fame. I have NEVER heard anyone talk like Tim Sample, by the way. His is a pretty wild caricature. I'm pretty sure folks from Palmyra don't talk like that.

Side note: In high school I was hanging out with a friend in Bath, home to Tim Sample. At the local Rite Aid (or whatever it was) there were signs on the counter for the people working the register: "Do NOT ask Mr. Sample for autographs." Big star, Tim Sample.

The so-called "Down East accent" has longer, rounder vowels, and the general tempo is slower, compared to what I grew up with. It's hard to explain. The Down East thing is elongated, while further from the coast things are a bit more clipped, though at times the vowels are just as chewy. This is certainly not my area of expertise, but the accent/dialect varies greatly around the state.

So back to my accent. I don't really have one. But it's right there waiting. Sometimes the strangest things can trigger it. Like frozen dinners:

Transcript: "Oh Jesus, Bub, smart one. Like you friggin' do that."

Translation: "My goodness, man, what folly! Who would ever do such a thing?"

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