The Maine accent is the local traditional pronunciation of Eastern New England English in parts of Maine, especially along the "Down East" and "Mid Coast" seaside regions. It is characterized by a variety of features, particularly among older speakers, including r-dropping (non-rhoticity), resistance to the horse–hoarse merger, a deletion or "breaking" of certain syllables, and some unique vocabulary. This traditional Maine accent is rapidly declining; a 2013 study of Portland speakers found the horse–hoarse merger to be currently embraced by all ages and the cot–caught merger to be resisted, despite being typical among other Eastern New England speakers, even reported in the 1990s in Portland itself. In the northern region of Maine along the Quebec border, Franco-Americans may show French-language influences in their English.
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."
Also, as in much New England English, the final "-ing" ending in multi-syllable words sounds more like "-in," for example, in stopping[ˈstɑpɪn] and starting[ˈstäʔɪn].
Single-syllable words ending a vowel followed by /r/ (such as /ɪr, eɪr, oʊr/) sometimes become two syllables and the /r/ is turned in to a schwa. That includes /ɪr/ as in here[ˈhɪ(j)ə](listen), /eɪr/ as in there[ˈðeɪ(j)ə](listen), and (as mentioned above) /oʊr/ as in more[ˈmoʊ(w)ə](listen).
/ɔr/ is [ɒə] in words like horse ([hɒəs] "hoss"), war ([wɒə] "waw"), north ([nɒəθ] "nawth"), or porch ([pɒətʃ] "pawch").
/oʊr/ is [ˈoʊ(w)ə] in words like hoarse ([ˈhoʊ(w)əs] "hoe-us"), wore ([ˈwoʊ(w)ə] "whoa-uh"), more ([ˈmoʊ(w)ə] "mow-uh"), or shore ([ˈʃoʊ(w)ə] "show-uh").
Many speakers also produce a dipping tone when they pronounce the extended word; they lower their tone for the first syllable and raise it for the second syllable. The phrase "You can't get there from here," coined in an episode of the mid-1900s humor stories collection Bert & I, is a quintessential example of the principle of syllable extension.
The traditional Maine dialect has a fairly rich vocabulary. Some of this vocabulary is shared with other New England dialects, however much of it is specific to Maine. This vocabulary includes, but is not limited to, the following terms:
apiece — an undetermined distance (as in "He lives down the road apiece")
door yard (doah yahd) — the yard or occupant's space outside a dwelling's exterior door -- sometimes decorated with ornamental plants, and often used for temporary storage of tools, toys, sleds, carts, or bicycles
Down East — loosely refers to the coastal regions of Hancock and Washington counties; because that boats traveled downwind from Boston to Maine (as in "I'm headin' Down East this weekend") - also used in Canadian English, possibly as the aforementioned Maine counties are close to parts of Atlantic Canada.
dressing (dressin) — application of manure to a garden
dry-ki — an accumulation of floating dead wood on the downwind shore of a lake
fart (old faht) — an inflexibly meticulous individual
flatlander — visitor from elsewhere, often from Massachusetts due to its flat topography
frap — a milkshake with ice cream (from frappe)
Maine humorist Marshall Dodge (1935-1982) based much of his humor from the Maine dialect, beginning first with his involvement with the series Bert & I, a "Down East" collection of humor stories created during the 1950s and 1960s .
Well-known author, musician, and former television broadcaster Tim Sample is known nationwide for his use of Maine vernacular.
^Wolfram, Walt; Ward, Ben (eds.) (2006). American Voices: How dialects differ from coast to coast. Malden, MA ; Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. p. 73.