dictionary of american regional english dare
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Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE)

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Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE). DARE. A reference tool. Not to prescribe or even describe how Americans speak. To record the varieties of English that are not found everywhere in the US.

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  • A reference tool.
  • Not to prescribe or even describe how Americans speak.
  • To record the varieties of English that are not found everywhere in the US.
  • Words, pronunciations, and phrases that vary regionally, that we learn at home and not in school, and that are part of our oral culture.
  • First four volumes covering A- through Sk- have been published.
  • Sponsored by the American Dialect Society (ADS) founded in 1889.
  • “…the investigation of the English Dialects of America with regard to pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, phraseology, and geographical distribution.”
  • Goal was to make a thorough dictionary of American English.
  • First publication of the ADS called Dialect Notes (1890).
  • Published mainly word lists.
  • 1962: the project gained needed financial support and a plan was formed.
  • Frederic G. Cassidy (1907-2000):

professor at University of Wisconsin.

    • Chief editor and promoter of DARE.
    • Preliminary work on the dialects of

Wisconsin (Wisconsin English Language

Survey WELS) proved that this type of project was


    • 50 Wisconsin natives filled out a questionnaire that revealed differences in local dialects.
    • Questionnaire became the basis for DARE.
the project
The Project
  • Decided that one thousand communities were to be investigated.
    • Community: “any group of people living fairly close to each other and sharing the same commercial facilities, social organizations, and the like.”
  • 5 types of community categories:
    • Urban
    • Large city
    • Small city
    • Village
    • Rural
the project1
The Project
  • Data gatherers sent to each community to find people and get them to answer the questionnaire.
  • Gathered between 1965 and 1970.
  • Each person given a personal identifying number and every response coded.
  • Biographical information collected on informants: name, address, social factors (sex, race, age, education), amount of travel, chief occupations, family background on both sides, and attitudes toward language.
the questionnaire
The Questionnaire
  • Questions try to establish the regional or local name for a single object/idea.
  • Ex: one question describes a dragonfly and asks for its name.
    • 79 different replies were given: snake feeder (N and S Midl) snake doctor (Midl, Sth) mosquito hawk (Sth) spindle (coastal NJ) ear-cutter (NH, WI)
the questionnaire1
The Questionnaire
  • Ex: What different kinds of oak trees grow around here?
    • Pin, post, Spanish, chinquapin, overcup, shim, chair bark oak. Over 130 given.
  • Ex: To feel depressed or in a gloomy mood: He has the _____ today.
  • Ex: If a person’s lower jaw sticks out prominently, you say he’s _____.
dare maps
  • Maps are included in the dictionary to show where specific words were found.
  • Based on settlement history and population density as of the 1960s.
  • States with low population like Nevada have only two interviews while states like New York have over 80.
  • Size of the states is skewed, location is maintained geographically.
dare maps2
  • Shows positions of the informants if they all gave the same answer.
some entries
Some Entries
  • Above one’s bend also above one’s huckleberry:

1) beyond one’s abilities (esp Sth, Wst)

  • Boonie familiarized form of boondock:
    • The backwoods
    • An outdoor toilet: widely used in Tidewater Virginia for privy.
    • Something very good: “Say that’s a boonie!” (KY)
some entries1
Some Entries
  • Bundle also in Sth, S Midl bun’le:
    • A sheaf of grain, widespread except in wMD, sPA, WV.
    • A woman; one’s wife.

Question: Joking names for a man’s wife…“I have to go down and pick up my _____.” (SC)

3) To share a bed with a person of the opposite sex while fully clothed (or with some other impediment to sexual intercourse); chiefly NEast.

4) To court, woo.

5) To make an err in judgment… “He usually handles things well, but this time he certainly _____.” (KY)

some entries2
Some Entries
  • Crispied:

1) slightly burnt around the edges. (cTX)

  • Pinkletink also pinkwink, tinky: only Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket MA

1) a spring peeper or young frog.

  • Pogonip: mainly NV, some say from the Paiute Indians.

1) a dense, icy fog; formerly also a snowstorm.

some entries3
Some Entries
  • Potlatch: Pacific NW, AK

1) to give or loan; rarely, to borrow.

Question: “I need five dollars before Saturday, will you ____ it to me?”

  • Potluck meal:

1) Indiana: pitch-in

2) nILL: scramble

  • Hopscotch:

1) Manhattan: potsy

2) Chicago: sky blue

  • In O’Neill

Reference PE 2843.D52 1985

  • http://polyglot.lss.wisc.edu/dare/dare.html