Kind words for DARE

No dictionary is complete without some kind words from friends. . . 

From the Home Page

“These dynamic, interactive features make digital DARE an invaluable resource, not only for what it reflects about the lexicon of American Englishes, speakers, regional variation, and language change, but also as a priceless research tool in that every detail down to a gnat’s eyebrow has been considered.”

Kathryn Remlinger American Speech

“Recently in the language world, something happened that might be described as the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the Fourth of July, New Year’s, three scoops of ice cream, and a new kitten all rolled into one…I’m talking about the fact that the magnificent six volume Dictionary of American Regional English is now available online.”

Martha Barnette “A Way with Words”

“Touring the Dictionary of American Regional English is a road trip of the mind from sea to shining sea. . . . It speaks with authority about American regional speech and has also captured the popular imagination. It is a peerless resource for scholars, but at the same time delivers accurate information about regional vocabulary to laypersons who, until DARE, could not count on access to it.”

Michael Adams, Humanities

“Can a person fall in love with a dictionary? If the work in question is the Dictionary of American Regional English, which has just published its fifth volume, Sl-Z, the answer appears to be yes.”

Heidi Landecker, The Chronicle of Higher Education

“A great project on how Americans speak—make that the great project on how Americans speak—is reaching completion this spring. . . . DARE stands alone as the most exhaustive record of regional speech in America, each page bursting with geographically nuanced information about the country’s diverse lexicon. It’s a joy to page through: Where else would you learn that snuff for chewing is called snoose in the Pacific Northwest, and also goes by the name Swedish condition powder?”

Ben Zimmer, Boston Globe

“For scholars of American English, this volume and the series it completes are a hoard of riches. . . . It is a repository of who we have been as a people, and who we are.”

John E. McIntyre, Baltimore Sun

More Reviewers’ Comments

“The most exciting linguistic project going on in the United States.”
William Safire, New York Times

“Sometimes it has seemed as if the reviewers of the Dictionary of American Regional English are engaged in a contest as to who can give it the most laudatory praise. That is not an unreasonable thing to do, because our laudatory remarks are, I believe, true. It would be difficult to achieve hyperbole.”
Allen Walker Read, Dictionaries

“With more than 60,000 main entries, covering the manifestations of the American dialect through much of its history, DARE represents, in the opinion of this reviewer, the greatest achievement in American lexicography in the past 50 years.”
Frank Abate, American Speech

“A wonderful lexicographical rabbit hole— Exploring [Digital] DARE is a true delight. It’s full of surprises for English speakers and using the Advance Search feature can take users down an endless path of word discovery. In searching for the word “imaginary” in definition texts, I learned the term mulligrubs. This, I now am proud to know, is “an imaginary ailment” in the South (DARE also recommends I consult the related entry collywobbles). The entry for mulligrubs links to the original survey question, which prompted informants to supply “Joking names that people make up for imaginary diseases: ‘He must have the _____.’” A link to the survey shows an interactive map of all the answers to this question, along with downloadable raw demographic data from the questionnaire. This map is amazing; I toggled various answers to this question over the map like epizooticsheebie-jeebiescrud, and can’t-help-its.”
Jane Solomon,

“The Dictionary of American Regional English . . . is all we had hoped for and more. It includes the regional and folk language, past and present, of the old and the young, men and women, white and black, the rural and the urban, from all walks of life . . . This is an exciting, lasting work of useful scholarship accomplished with excellence, a work that scholars and laypeople alike will study, use and enjoy for generations.”
Stuart B. Flexner, New York Times Book Review

“In its scope and thoroughness, Cassidy’s dictionary is unmatched. . . . Writers, etymologists and other devotees of verbal arcana have never been given a richer browsing ground. . . . They are also bound to be awed by the dictionary’s staggering scholarship.”
Ezra Bowen,

“Absolutely fascinating. . . . This fine production of Harvard University Press will repay endlessly the attentions of the lonely scholar and the word-drunk braggadoe alike. . . . For the first time, in this nation of homogenized milk and golfheaded piffle-speakers, we have a definitive picture of who says what where when the TV is off. This picture, literally dotted out on helpful maps, provides a raucous hymn to linguistic diversity.”
Mark Muro, Boston Globe

“A staggering work of collective scholarship. . . . DARE is not only a reference treasure for the scholar and the general word lover, it’s a lode for raiding parties by specialists of all kinds. . . . Most of all, DARE is evidence that American speech will never become stale and fusty, that the great linguistic homogenization of television is a myth.”
Henry Kisor, Chicago Sun-Times

“The digital DARE contains all the material from the print version and is an amazing database. . . . The detailed work that made the print DARE a major research source is mirrored in the digital version. Ideally, all academic and large public libraries should subscribe to this fantastic resource, if budget allows.”
Christine Bulson Booklist

“To open its pages is to thrill at the exploration of the New World and to trace the course of American history through its language . . . Its editors . . . have caught the native poetry of America on every page.”
Fred Strebeigh, Smithsonian

“Now that it has reached completion, it is appropriate to pay homage to DARE, so far as space allows, as one of the lexicographical monuments of its day. . . . Like all good dialect dictionaries, DARE caters to browsers as well as scholars, probably more so. It would be a test of will for word-struck readers not to stop and ponder such entries as steam beer, swankey, thanky poke, titman, upscuddle, willywag, and Yankee dime. . . . [Footnote:] The meanings, respectively (and roughly), are ‘cheap gassy beer’, ‘watered-down liquor’, ‘a pouch for collecting alms’, ‘the runt pig in the litter’, ‘a noisy quarrel’, ‘a sparsely inhabited area’, and ‘a kiss offered as a reward (hence something of little or no real value)’.”
J.K. Chambers, University of Toronto

“Their five massive volumes are proof positive of what lexicographical work is possible when scholars, staff, field research volunteers, students, sponsors, and a superb publisher work together to accomplish a Gargantuan and Herculean lexicographical task.”
Wolfgang Mieder, Journal of Folklore Research

“Name scholars are . . . grateful for the vision, the enterprise, and the perseverance of those . . . who have created this superb research tool. Once one has used it one becomes addicted to it, wondering how one has ever managed without it.”
W.F.H. Nicolaisen, Names

“This survey of spoken English is, as its publisher proudly proclaims, unprecedented. It’s also scholarly, endlessly fascinating and enlightening. You can hear America talking from its pages.”
Howard S. Shapiro, Philadelphia Inquirer

“When it is completed the dictionary will rank as one of the glories of contemporary American scholarship. . . . It is endlessly rewarding to dip into, and if you look up a particular word or phrase you are in constant danger of being seduced by something else. . . . It is a work to consult, and a work to savor—a work to last a lifetime.”
John Gross, New York Times

“Ever wonder what a preacher’s nose is? (The rump of a cooked chicken, in areas of the South.) Or a skinny malink? (A derogatory term New Yorkers use to describe an emaciated person.) . . . With material from thousands of face-to-face interviews conducted between 1965 and 1970, as well as diaries, letters, novels and all other manner of written material, the dictionary is a fascinating history of American English.”
Seth Mnookin, Newsweek

“The New Year [2003] brings a happy present for lovers of the American language: Volume IV of the massive Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) is hot off the press [Dec. 2002]. . . . The newly published Volume IV, with Joan Houston Hall as chief editor, is a browser’s delight.”
James J. Kilpatrick, Charlotte Observer

“Here is the big news in the world of lexicography: DARE IV has come out of the wordwork. The Dictionary of American Regional English—repository of the most delicious dialect sources and most colorful evidence of the Americanization of the English language—has now covered letters P to Sk. This bargain, at 90 bucks from Harvard University Press, is the penultimate (one more to go) volume in the set that no library can afford to absquatulate.”
William Safire, New York Times Magazine

“This fourth and most recent volume of the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) replicates the wonderful success of the three preceding volumes (1985, 1991, 1996), the established elegance of complete, consistent, and deliberate lexicography. . . . Joan Houston Hall as chief editor [is] the perfect choice to sustain the excellence of editorial leadership and to complete the most important work ever undertaken in the field of American speech.”
Lee Pederson, American Speech

Users’ Comments

“I’m currently working on the translation of Breece Pancake’s stories (Trilobites and other Stories) and I’m trying my best to bring into my language the nuances and tones of his style. . . . I’ve already done a lot of research for this translation, and the DARE dictionary was really a precious help. I was lucky enough to find a copy of the dictionary here in Bologna, where I live, in our university library.”
Cristiana Minnella, Translator, Bologna Italy

“Vol. V is just as impressive—and lovely—as I–IV. I have been browsing through it without looking for anything specific, just oohing and aahing over it. What a job you and Fred and the whole editorial staff did, all the way up through Z.”
August Rubrecht, former DARE Fieldworker, Professor Emeritus of English, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire

“I have used the information I have received from DARE . . . [while] serving as dialect coach for professional actors at the Denver Center Theatre Company, the Cincinnati Playhouse-in-the-Park, and (most notably) the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain and the Royal Shakespeare Company. . . . DARE is a national treasure.”
Kathryn G. Maes, University of Colorado at Denver

“As someone who has tilled this proverbial field for more than four decades, I made discoveries in this fifth volume (previously in the other four volumes, of course) that I would never have dreamt of. And, due to the truly regional orientation of DARE, I discovered many proverbial phrases that I had never come across before.”
Wolfgang Mieder, University of Vermont

“Threat letters and ransom notes can be a rich source of forensic information. The problem is that most law enforcement officers and prosecutors are unfamiliar with linguistic variation in English speech and writing. . . . DARE often provides this valuable resource on English variation for me to use in helping the police narrow down their list of suspects.”
Roger Shuy,  Roger W. Shuy, Inc., Linguistic Services

“I use the DARE website for my undergraduate English 370 course ‘Introduction to English Linguistics.’. . . The DARE information, particularly the audio samples of ‘Arthur the Rat,’ supplements the students’ study of phonetic transcription for American English dialects, providing real-life examples of regional dialects and their linguistic features.”
Beth Backes, Old Dominion University

“I recommend the DARE to SSILA [=Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas] members. It has lots of data on local words of Native American origin.”
Ives Goddard, Smithsonian Institution

DARE has become my favorite reading and has helped me in the Blue Ridge Mountains section of the novel I’m now working on [=I Am Charlotte Simmons, 2004].”
Tom Wolfe, Writer, New York, New York

“It is no exaggeration to say that this reliance on DARE made my own volume [=From Ulster to America: The Scotch-Irish Heritage of American English, 2006] far richer and more substantial. My volume thus represents a kind of ripple effect of DARE, which not only records American English, but makes it available in numerous ways to other scholars.”
Michael B. Montgomery, University of South Carolina, Emeritus

“Your tapes have been an invaluable resource in my work as a dialect coach. In researching the dialects for the upcoming Broadway revival of Oklahoma, I found that yours were the best resources available for sounds of turn-of-the-century northeast Oklahoma. The clarity, diversity, and length of the recordings enabled me to make distinctions among the dialects of nearly forty characters.”
Kate Wilson, The Juilliard School, Drama Division

“One of my interests is the history of commercial names in the U.S. DARE is a valuable resource in that regard. I know that DARE is constantly being consulted by intellectual property attorneys for that very reason. I always mention DARE when I teach the Language and Law course that I give at Duke.”
Ron Butters, Duke University

“Congratulations! It’s splendid! A quick glance . . . at the infamous ‘N-word’ shows what is undoubtedly the most sensitive and accurate treatment of this word ever produced. But similar treasures can be found on almost every page [of Volume III].”
Sidney I. Landau, Reference Director, Cambridge University Press, N. American Branch

“Your assistance has brought a sigh of relief to a great many librarians at our library. Thanks!”
Amy E. Kinard, Jackson County Library, Medford, Oregon

“Here in the Institute for Oral History, we use the Dictionary of [American] Regional English frequently to assist us in transcribing oral history memoirs. . . . When an undergraduate student transcriber gets stumped, . . . we exhaust the standard unabridged dictionary, then we turn to the DARE. . . . We use it on a regular basis, and we need it.”
M. Rebecca Sharpless, Director, Institute for Oral History, Baylor University

“Although I’m not a linguist, I’ve found the volumes of the DARE immensely helpful in a variety of public history projects. . . . I realize it [=DARE] must be a monumental task, but I think it’s an immensely important project whose value, for both scholars and the general public, will appreciate over the years.”
Curt Miner, Historian, State Museum of Pennsylvania

DARE is used extensively by Merriam-Webster for research into regional terms. . . . We consider it one of the most important resources in our editorial library, and one of the two or three most important ongoing dictionary projects in English.”
Joanne Despres, Senior Editor, Merriam-Webster, Inc.

“A mediator used this term [=dogfall settlement] yesterday and I had to look it up online.  I found the definition in a ‘screen shot’ of the DARE.  It is a term used to denote a tie in a wrestling match or a fight.  Looks like it is used primarily in Arkansas, KY, etc., which is interesting because this mediator was from Louisville.”
Wright Mitchell, Attorney, Atlanta, Georgia

The Dictionary of American Regional English is a terrific resource for the courses that I teach in English syntax and morphology. . . . The DARE editors have made wonderful contributions to my classes, giving guest lectures and even designing tasks that allowed students to contribute to DARE (by checking electronic historical data bases for early attestations of regionalisms). Students also love the interview I recently did with Joan Hall on the subject of common beliefs about dialects, as part of my podcast series [at].”
Anja Wanner, University of WisconsinMadison

“Not only is DARE important in my research of slang and regionalisms, it is particularly useful in demonstrating regional and social dialects to middle school and high school students.”
David Barnhart, Editor, The Barnhart Dictionary Companion

“I use DARE when we discuss dialects and language variation and change—we go to the library and do a DARE ‘scavenger hunt’ in which students have a list of dialect terms they look up in DARE. . . . We also always use at least one of the DARE ‘quizzes’ from the web site.”
Patti Kurtz, Minot State University, North Dakota

“I tend to stress methods in that course [=American dialects], and those pieces from the fieldworkers [in the DARE Newsletter] provide a great sense of what it really was like to collect field data.”
Matthew Gordon, University of Missouri–Columbia

UW–Madison Users’ Comments

Over the years, the Center for the Study of the American Constitution has benefited from DARE. Periodically we have been assisted in identifying obscure local terms that are not identifiable elsewhere. . . . In my travels around the country, I find that DARE is one of those projects readily known throughout academia. Even beyond the academic world, I have found that a goodly number of federal judges are aware of and use DARE. It is one of the great projects that identifies the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an internationally renowned university.

John P. Kaminski, Director, Center for the Study of the American Constitution

As an important part of my classes in Varieties of English [at the Freie Universität Berlin], we addressed . . . the relation of regional lexical items to the historical background of the populations. Looking at DARE . . . was a valuable part of these classes.

Carol Pfaff, Carl Schurz Guest Professor, German Department

I use the dictionary yearly to provide my CS&D 110 students examples of dialect variation that are both entertaining, instructive, and stimulating.

Gary Weismer, Oros Bascom Professor and Chair, Communication Sciences & Disorders

I and some of my students draw on DARE material in both research and outreach dealing with regional linguistic diversity in the U.S. . . . And scholars from a range of humanistic and social scientific disciplines aside from linguistics (e.g., history, folklore) also draw on DARE material. DARE . . . is entering a new phase that crucially involves the interpretation of its findings and their dissemination to diverse audiences, both scholarly and non-scholarly.

Mark Louden, Department of German

Joan Hall and Luanne von Schneidemesser and I hosted a workshop specifically for sign language interpreters, in order to increase interpreter awareness and ability to monitor their use of Regional English in their own work.

Amy Free, McBurney Disability Resource Center

I often refer to DARE in my various American folklore courses, rely on it as a scholar and editor, send students to consult it for their research projects, and sometimes work with students to substantiate/more fully document regional English from their experiences so as to add to the ongoing work of DARE.

Jim Leary, Scandinavian Studies, Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures

While my own areas of professional interest do not make use of DARE I have consulted it for my personal interests and I have always found it to be a most impressive and valuable resource. Its value will only be enhanced when it is available in digital form.

Robert J. Bickner, Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia

I can vouch for the importance of DARE to my ongoing research. . . [But] the books are frozen in time and space until they can merit a new edition, so the digital format can incorporate changes, additions, and more interactivity.

Janet Gilmore, Natural Resources–Landscape Architecture

I have used DARE in a History of Science class to illustrate the huge changes not only in farming technology over the decades, but also the differences in people’s perceptions of the tools and equipment and the differences in names from one part of the country to another

Tom Bromon, History of Science Department

I am writing a book on the English passive, a construction not normally associated with dialectal speech. . . . According to the literature, the get-passive occurs only with a handful of verbs. . . . When I asked Chief Editor Joan Houston Hall about this, she invited me to study the DARE fieldwork evidence. I found that the get-passive was used with more than 70 verbs . . . and I can’t think of another source that would have provided me with the same kind of in-depth information.

Anja Wanner, University of Wisconsin–Madison