No more nor’easters!

For most people, this statement means “no more windy snowstorms.” To my deceased father, Edgar A. Comee, and now to me, it means “stop using the version from away: ‘nor’easter.’ ” Let’s get rid of this cussed intrusion on our regional dialect. The pronunciation is “notheaster.”

“Nor’easter” is an affectation perpetrated by the media. And, let’s remember, it does not get “windy”; it gets “breezed-up.” And, if you really have to get away from the storm, get all your culch and go down cellar or book it into your dooryard and hide in the dingle. If you’re feelin’ a bit pekid, slow down a dite. I hope this affectation will change soon, but I have to admit, it is hard tellin’ not knowin’.

Edgar had a widely distributed postcard that read, in part: “The use of ‘nor’easter’ to describe a northeast storm is a pretentious and altogether lamentable affectation, the odious, even loathsome, practice of landlubbers who would be seen as salty as the sea itself. The offensive utterance will never be heard in the mouths of true sailors, fishermen or others to whom a northeast storm is to be reckoned with face to face. To the tiresome argument that wide usage is the parent of lexicographic approval, the rebuttal is, ‘not among sailors and fishermen, it ain’t.’ ” He signed his postcard, “Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee for Stamping Out ‘Nor’easter.’ “

Edgar Comee’s quest intensified as he aged. His career included Navy ship captain (1941-45); Portland Evening Express reporter, then editorial page director for the Evening Express, the Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram (1945-60); and U.S. government (1960-74). His quest was featured in the Press Herald (Oct. 19, 1994); in the Down East article “25 Things Every Mainer Should Know” (November 2008); in The New Yorker’s Talk of the Town section (Sept. 5, 2005), and on Wikipedia.

Elizabeth Comee Bouvé