How to Talk Yankee

 

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A few months ago, Private Paul Dudley of Company B in Maine, began to help us with some of the pronunciations of the names of the Maine Towns and Counties.  He also offered his assistance with learning some of the unique words and phrases that most people from Maine might have used at the time and still use today.  Many of us became interested in how men and women from Maine would have really sounded and spoken and still do today.  Private Dudley has been kind enough to provide us with a number of wonderful resources.  It will be "some" fun to add to our impression and our camp life.

Below you will find a quick overview of "How to Talk Yankee" that includes many of the common pronunciations and phrases.  You have to really hear it to get the hang of it and there are audio tapes available.

The true Co. G. Mainer from Lincoln and Sagadahoc Counties in Central Coastal Maine would have a true "Down Easter" accent or "Yankee" pattern of speech. In order to help us remember those that we portray, we can incorporate some of this "Yankee Speech" into our everyday speech. We have enlisted the help of Pvt. Paul Dudley of 20th Maine, Company B. who lives in Easton Maine, far up north, almost to Canada. Pvt. Dudley has been most helpful and has provided references and coaching.

 

There are lots of inflections and pronunciations that we will learn as time goes on. Many have to be heard from a tape or in person, but these are some of the basics.

  1. The "r" in most words is pronounced "ah" Examples: timbah, honah, doah,
  2. The "o" is often pronounced "aw" Examples: mawnin, windah, but in "about" it is pronounced more like the "o" in boat . In "about" the "a" is dropped to produce "boat".
  3. The ending "g" is dropped and pronounced "in" Examples: walkin, talkin, drawin Member to use the hard "k" sound in "wakin" and "talkin"
  4. "Ayuh" is the truest touchstone of Yankee. It is used in place of the affirmative "yes" and for 100ís of other uses close to that. It could be used to start a question or statement, "Ayuah, Henry did you bring your harmonica?"
  5. "Want" as in, "want that a lovely suppah that Mrs. Rehmus prepared."
  6. Often when a wurd ends in "a", the "a" is pronounced with an "er".  For example, Linda becomes "Linder".

Tapes, books and references will be available at Ft. Point and moah lessons will be forthcomin from Private Dudley.  To obtain your own books and tapes, look on the web for "How to Talk Yankee" by Gearld E. Lewis.  You can also obtain the Maine humah tapes done by Maine humorist Tim Sample.  Goo-ud stuff!  You can also find out about common words used by all soldiers during the civil war by picking up the book "Encyclopdia of Civil War Usage" by Garrison.

Give it a try, youíll have "some" fun.  Here are some typical yankee words and phrases:

word part of speech definition
Able adj physically strong, "That boy is quite able." "Heard tell!". "Said he donít mind carryin the whole log." "Ayuh, he is a strong one."
Ah The letter between "q" and "s" in the alphabet
Aidge-on noun ("edge-on") to be intoxicated.  Seems to me ole Bill had a bit of an "aidge-on" last night.
Ain't got nawthin Int. phrase This is as actually a question which means "Do you have a drink?" Another form is: "Ainít got nawthin on ye."
Ayuh adv. The affirmative, yes.  This is "The Word". (eeyuh) Used a thousand times and a thousand ways.
Bail verb To consume, often to excess "Hot day for fat folk, ainít it?í Ayuh, best to stay down in the sulla and bail the cider right to ye."
Band verb to ban, or prohibit, "If we donít get some rain soon theyíre goin to "ban" the woods
Barse- ackwards adv. Reversed "That boat is bars-ackwards on the trailer."
Baster noun Anything of considerable size, see also, honker.  That deer was a real "baster"
Be verb The archic form of "is". "That there Barters Island?" "What other island be they?"
Bull verb To work hard. "We bulled right along and dug that well by noon."

 

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