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Dictionary of American Regional English, Volume I: A-C

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Overview

Volume I of the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), published to wide acclaim in 1985, captured the wondrous variety and creativeness of American folk words and expressions and tickled the imagination of lovers of language around the world. Decades in preparation, the DARE corpus reflects the liveliness of English as it is spoken on America's main streets and country roads-the regional metaphors and similes passed along within homes and communities.

Like its popular predecessor, Volume II is a treasury of vernacular Americanisms. In Virginia a goldfinch is a dandelion bird," in Missouri an insufficient rain shower a "drizzle-fizzle." "Gate" was Louis Armstrong's favorite "sender" (a verbal spur to a sidekick in a band), a usage that probably originated from the fact that gates swing.Readers will bedazzled by the wealth of entries--more than 11,000-contained in this second volume alone. The two and a half pages on "dirt" reveal that a small marble is a "dirt pea" in the South. "To eat dried apples," a curious rural euphemism for becoming pregnant, appears in the five pages on "eat." Seven pages on "horn" and related words take readers on a tour of the animal and nether worlds: horned lark, horned frog, horned pout (look that one up), and that horned fellow, the devil.

Initiated under the leadership of Frederic G. Cassidy, DARE represents an unprecedented attempt to document the living language of the entire country. The project's primary tool was a carefully worded survey of 1,847 questions touching on most aspects of everyday life and human experience. Over a five-year period fieldworkers interviewed natives of 1,002 communities, a patchwork of the UnitedStates in all its diversity.

The result is a database of more than two and a half million items--a monument to the richness of American folk speech. Additionally, some 7,000 publications, including novels, diaries, and small-town newspapers, have yielded a bountiful harvest of local idioms. Computer-generated maps accompanying many of the entries illustrate the regional distribution of words and phrases.

The entries contained in Volume II--from the poetic and humorous to the witty and downright bawdy--will delight and inform readers.Frederic G. Cassidy is Professor of English, Emeritus, at the University of Wisconsin, where DARE's offices are located. Joan Houston Hall is Associate Editor of the Dictionary.

Published to wide acclaim in 1985, the first volume of the Dictionary of American Regional English, captured the variety and creativity of American folk words and expressions. Volume II is a continued treasury of vernacular Americanisms which attempt to document the living language of the entire country. Features more than 11,000 entries. 606 maps.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review

This long-awaited, definitive and fascinating Dictionary of American Regional English [DARE]...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...Although DARE will be one of the most scholarly, comprehensive and detailed dictionaries ever completed...it will also be one of the easiest and most enjoyable to use or browse in...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

Time

In its scope and thoroughness, Cassidy's dictionary is unmatched as a kind of refuge for colloquialisms threatened with extinction...Writers, etymologists and other devotees of verbal arcana have never been given a richer browsing ground. But while they are discovering that a blind tiger is a place to buy and drink moonshine, or that there are 176 names for dust balls under the bed, they are also bound to be awed by the dictionary's staggering scholarship.
— Ezra Bowen

Newsweek
More than 20 years in the making, this brand-fire-new tome is loaded with the bare-naked speech that Americans really use when they 'bump their gums' with or without having had some 'sweet spirits o' cats-a-fightin' or 'conversation fluid' to make their chin music happen. The result is a testimonial to the metaphor-making power of the American language at its most vigorous.
Smithsonian

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, led by Professor Frederic G. Cassidy, have caught the native poetry of America on every page.
— Fred Strebeigh

Language and Linguistics

A monumental and impressive work.
— Daniel F. Phelan

New York Times Book Review - Stuart B. Flexner
This long-awaited, definitive and fascinating Dictionary of American Regional English [DARE]...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...Although DARE will be one of the most scholarly, comprehensive and detailed dictionaries ever completed...it will also be one of the easiest and most enjoyable to use or browse in...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.
New York Times - John Gross
It already seems clear that...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 to something else...It is a work to consult, and a work to savor--a work to last a lifetime.
USA Today - L. A. Jolidon
Proof that tourism, television and technological change haven't rounded off all the gaudy and gracious edges of the way we talk.
Chicago Sun Times - Henry Kisor
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.
Time - Ezra Bowen
In its scope and thoroughness, Cassidy's dictionary is unmatched as a kind of refuge for colloquialisms threatened with extinction...Writers, etymologists and other devotees of verbal arcana have never been given a richer browsing ground. But while they are discovering that a blind tiger is a place to buy and drink moonshine, or that there are 176 names for dust balls under the bed, they are also bound to be awed by the dictionary's staggering scholarship.
Smithsonian - Fred Strebeigh
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, led by Professor Frederic G. Cassidy, have caught the native poetry of America on every page.
Language and Linguistics - Daniel F. Phelan
A monumental and impressive work.
Language in Society - Edward Callary
Because these volumes are the most complete lexical records we have of the American experience, much of the history and contemporary condition of American society can be found in their pages...We are very fortunate to have DARE; it is not a dictionary; it is a national treasure.
Library Journal
Long in gestation, having been an original goal of the American Dialect Society in 1889, DARE is the result of 25 years of sustained work by its editor, with support from the NEH, universities, institutions, hundreds of volunteers, and 2,777 informants. Entries give definitions; pronunciation; alternative forms; examples; dated reference to sources, which include a unique questionnaire; and then clear indication of where the word is used. Computer-produced maps are a significant feature, as are extensive introductory articles about the maps, pronunciation, language changes, and the DARE project. In an attractive and readable design, on acid-free paper, at a reasonable price, DARE is an important and necessary purchase for academic and public libraries. William Wortman, Miami Univ. Lib., Ohio
Booknews
Initiated under the leadership of Frederic G. Cassidy, DARE represents an attempt to document the living language of the entire country. Volume I, published to acclaim in 1985, captured the variety and creativeness of American folk words and expressions. Like its predecessor, Volume II is a treasury of vernacular Americanisms--some 11,000 in this volume alone. Computer-generated maps accompanying many of the entries illustrate the regional distribution of words and phrases. A core reference, essentially without competition. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Frederic G. Cassidy was Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
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Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • The DARE Map and Regional Labels
  • Language Changes Especially Common in American Folk Speech
  • Guide to Pronunciation
  • Text of Questionnaire
  • List of Informants
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Dictionary of American Regional English, A–C

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