How to Speak Like a Maritimer
People speak so weirdly in Canada’s Maritime Provinces that you practically need a translator for the toothless fisherman-ese.
While Americans look to the south for unintelligible slang and quaint accents, Canadians look to the east. People speak so fucking weirdly in Canada’s Maritime Provinces that you practically need special Robocop-style eyewear to translate the toothless fisherman-ese into intelligible subtitles. But even though you might have trouble understanding what they say, the fact that they’re friendly as fuck comes across loud and clear. After some time, their garbled fast-paced accents and abuse of English grammar grows on you to the point where you find yourself back in the big city going, “Holee Jesus cocksuckin’ Murphy, she was some fuckin’ cold and a pocketful of fuck yester’ night, I’ll tell ya right now.”
Maritimers communicate with one another like young twins that invent gibberish language: They say what they want, how they want to say it. Communication is successful through a combination of inflections, contexts, and an instinctive mutual understanding that stems from living for decades in the same small boring coastal town. Here are a few tips if you ever want to try and converse with someone from Tatamagouche.
TALK REALLY, REALLY FAST
For starters, Maritimers speak at a speed that can only be compared to an episode of Gilmore Girls cast with leprechauns on crank. When in doubt, the rule of thumb is: Fake it till you make it. No fisherman is going to dissect the minutiae of what you’re trying to say, so if you’re stuck casually throw in a few nonsensical nautical-sounding phrases like “flipper dipper” or “thar she blows!” Keep up with the pace and no one will second-guess you. If you find yourself utterly speechless, stuff your face full of donair and they’ll think your dad was the mayor of Memramcook.
SPEAK LIKE A PIRATE
The whole living-by-the-sea thing has given everyone a kind of “arrr matey!” lilt. So words like “our” are pronounced “are,” “car” sounds like “currh,” and you’ll regularly hear things like, “Come on, Terry. Get in the currh (car) we’re going to the burrh (bar). Oh it’s not too furrh (far).”
“WHAT'RE YOU SAYIN'?”
This saying translates simply into “What’s up?” and it will get you confused looks anywhere east of New Brunswick. Maritimers prefer to ask what someone is “saying” rather than “doing,” because most of them come from small towns where everyone gossips and nobody actually does anything.
Any sketchy, scumbag behaviour is universally referred to as “greasy,” or better yet, “greasy as fuck.” The pot-dealing, barbecue-stealing characters of Trailer Park Boys are the gold standard of Maritime grease:
USAGE OF “FUCK” AND “I’LL TELL YA RIGHT FUCKIN’ NOW”
Nova Scotians and New Brunswickers are always telling you things “right fucking now.” (The “right” is pronounced “rate.”) Some guy will tell you that he’s going to quit his job if the boss doesn’t give him a raise, and he’ll tell you “right fucking now.” If someone complains that they can’t stand the snow, they’ll tell you “right fucking now.” Technically, since it takes just a teensy bit of time for those words to exit their mouths and enter your ears, you were told right fucking then.
Also, if you ask anyone how they’re doing, there’s a strong chance that they’ll tell you… and then tag on “as fuck” at the end. You’ll go, “Hey buddy how’s it going?” And they’ll tell you that they’re either “tired as fuck,” “ready-to-go as fuck,” “hungry as fuck,” and so on. But the mother of all “… as fucks” is the proverbial “drunk as fuck.” Every Maritimer ever in the history of Maritimers has at some point in their Maritimer lives told another Maritimer that they were “drunk as fuck.” I guaran-fucking-tee it.
GENDERIZATION OF OBJECTS
Based on the way everything from cars to the weather is referred to as “her” or “she,” the Maritime dialect is not exactly feminist-friendly. But if you want to fit in, forget what every armpit-haired Women’s Studies major has ever told you and bitch about the weather: “She’s right fucking freezin’ out there. She’ll freeze yer tits right off.”
ADJECTIVES = ADVERBS
Maritimers decided a while back that adjectives like “some” and “right” weren’t going to be adjectives anymore. Instead they became adverbs and are now used frequently as intensifiers, like “She was some drunk last night,” or “It’s right cold outside”.
No need to pronounce the “d” at the end of the word “old.” “Ol’” will do just fine. Maritimers are a no-nonsense, practical people and if they understand the gist of what each other has to say, then that’s good enough. No need to waste perfectly good mouth-energy pronouncing one extra phoneme.
I don’t know about you but if I finish a six-pack I’ll go, “I just drank six beers.” I put an “s” at the end of “beer” because sometime in elementary school I learned that if there’s more than one of something, you slap an “s” on whatever that something is. Such is not the case out east. Someone who’s finished a case of beer to themselves on Prince Edward Island will boast that they pounded “24 beer.” No “s” needed. Also, no one says “anywhere” or “somewhere” but will instead go, “The TV remote is somewheres around here but I can’t find it anywheres.”
Maritimers get really creative when they talk about fighting. Nowhere else in the world will someone threaten you with “dropkicking your neck off” or “punching you behind your cock” as illustrated in this corny yet informative video:
Past, present, and future verb tenses are erratically interchanged making it difficult to pinpoint when or what the fuck someone is talking about. Rather than abiding by the normal rules of the English language and saying, “I saw the Batman movie the other day,” Maritimers will say, “I seen the Batman movie this day,” with all the intended meaning of the former.
Any maritime native reading this knows that I’ve only gently scratched the surface of a polluted swamp of a lexicon. At the end of the day no matter what part of Canada you’re from, the world will always make fun of us for living in igloos, riding polar bears, and saying “aboot” instead of “about.” Making fun of any given part of Canada while being from another is basically like some kid ripping on another kid in class for failing a math test when they’re both in Special Ed. Every Canadian is equally retarded in their own special way. Except for maybe the Newfies. They’re completely fucked.
Follow Gregory on Twitter @GGRPike
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