August 12, 2011

The Dictionary of American Regional English will soon be complete

According to their website, the fifth and final volume of the American Dictionary of Regional English will be released next year (ten years after Volume 4). The dictionary is based on dialect research and on questionnaires administered to Americans throughout the country back in the 1960s. It admits to having a few idiosyncracies too, such as entries based on a single informant's answer, like
"Bull cactus … Perh[aps] a prickly pear …"
(To me, anyway, these may be nonce words not used enough to warrant inclusion in a dictionary.) As you will note from "Bull cactus," most of DARE is really not interesting reading, especially when compared to slang dictionaries like Eric Partridge's Dictionary of Slang or the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang; it's much less personal and focuses on shorthand detail, especially with respect to geographical distribution of words in the fifty states.

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