Maine Accents

It’s fairly easy to spot the difference between a local Mainer and a tourist based on pronunciations of different words. For example, I grew up in Yarmouth, which we Mainers know is spoken as “Yar-Mith” but I’ve heard my fair share of people from near and far pronounce the town as “Yar-mouth”.

Then of course you have the real coastal locals and inlanders from up North who have no “R” in their vocabulary and whether you’re from the state or from across the country, you know the running joke about us saying “pahk” and “cah”, hence why we call “Bar Harbor”, “Bah Habah”.

But what about the pronunciation of one of our famous Casco Bay islands, Chebeague Island?

Chebeague Island in Casco Bay

I’ve grown up in Maine, I’ve worked on the islands, and I graduated with many islanders who call Chebeague home year-round even in the dead of winter. I’ve heard the name of the island spoken differently but it’s always come back to “Sha-beague”.

I recently wrote an article about island-hopping and what you can do on each infamous Casco Bay spot and I read something that made me stop and think.

Right on Casco Bay Ferry Line’s website, before they even begin to get into what the island has to offer, they write the following:

“Chebeague (pronunciation: “shuh big”, without a significant emphasis on either syllable) is one of Maine’s most beautiful islands!”

… What?

I’ve heard it pronounced that way but even people who were born and raised on the island say “sha-beague”. Have they just adopted the “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality and given up on trying to push the true pronunciation of the island name? Or what’s the deal?

Whether you’re a local, you’re from the Pine Tree State, or you’re an islander yourself, how do YOU pronounce the island name??

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