Adventures in Coastal Living – Some Hot!

Long before we had verification of climate change, my wife, her mother and aunt would fan themselves cool and utter a sound and phrase that I have never heard away from coastal Maine. It’s a slight gasp made on inhalation followed an exclamatory expression. In this case,” (a small gasp)_-huh. Some hot.” It can be phrased as a statement or as a very faint, barely noticeable question. A fanning gesture frequently accompanied it. 

On the last several extended trips Down East, I’ve noticed that regionalisms and local words and terms seem to be in retreat. The three ladies I was talking about grew up before standard TV English and pronunciation swamped the hundreds of regional variations of English found in New England.

Ten years ago, I was waiting for the sun to rise over Naskeag Point on the Blue Hill peninsula. I was waiting to take video for a project I was doing for a client. Somewhere in the fog near me were two fishermen. They were oblivious to my presence and chatting in coastal English. When the sun rose and burnt off enough of the fog that we could see each other, they greeted me in rather plain Television English.

I’ve come to miss the local and regional things I’ve picked up over the years. When my kids look at me oddly and ask what do I mean, I patiently explain what a “cat run across the field cousin” is, or what it means to go somewhere by going ’round Robinhood’s barn.

Please, If you speak a local English variant, hold onto it, cherish it and make sure your kids learn it. Don’t allow the “standard” to swamp the individual beauty of your voice.

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