Dictionary of American Regional
English (DARE)
•Goal: “to produce a work of useful scholarship …that will testify to the
wondrous variety and creativeness of human language, and specifically of the
English language as it is used regionally in the United States.” (DARE, 1985,
p. xxii)
•not to prescribe how Americans should speak or to describe “standard”
•“It seeks to document the varieties of English that are not found everywhere
in the United States--those words, pronunciations, and phrases that vary from
one region to another, that we learn at home rather than at school, or that are
part of our oral rather than our written culture.” (DARE website,
•Therefore, the DARE is a descriptivist dictionary.
What the DARE Includes:
Any word or phrase whose form or meaning is not used
generally throughout the United States but only in part (or
parts) of it, or by a particular social group, is to be included.
(2) Any word or phrase whose form or meaning is distinctively a
folk usage (regardless of region) is to be included.” (DARE, p.
xvi, 1985)
*folk usage is that which comes from the home rather than from
What it doesn’t include:
Technical, scientific, or other “learned” words or phrases
Occupational jargon (in the case that only those in the
occupation can understand it)
– Artificial languages
Example Entry…
cream cheese n
• 1 Cottage cheese. esp LA See Map
1941 LANE Map 299, The map shows the terms cottage cheese . .
cream ch. . . and Irish ch. . . denoting a kind of cheese made of the
curds of whole or skim milk, curdled either naturally or artificially. . .
Cream cheese is often described as finer and smoother than the
other varieties. 1962 Atwood Vocab. TX 61, The southern Louisiana
cream cheese (also meaning cottage cheese) has penetrated into,
but not much beyond, the southeastern counties of Texas. 1965- 70
DARE (Qu. H60, The lumpy white cheese that is made from sour
milk) 25 Infs, esp LA, Cream cheese. 1967 LeCompte Word Atlas
290 seLA, (Homemade cheese made out of milk curd)—Cream
cheese [17 of 21 infs].
• 2 See quot.
1968 DARE FW Addit New Orleans LA, Cream cheese: A breakfast
dessert with cream over sour cheese—sugar is spread over it. [FW:
This is neither cottage cheese nor what is sold commercially as "
cream cheese " .]
Brief History
The American Dialect Society (founded 1889) sponsored the dictionary
-purpose of the society: “the investigation of the English Dialects of America
with regard to pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, phraseology, and
geographical distribution.”
-related projects Linguistic Atlas of the United States and Canada and the
Dictionary of American English
The ADS began publishing Dialect Notes, which consisted primarily of word lists, in
1890 and it lasted for 49 years and produced 6 volumes before the DARE seemed
remotely within reach. DARE was a goal, but much more collecting was needed.
Creation of the DARE was a long process that required lots of time, money, and
contributions from hundreds of people.
• Summer of 1964, established positions (Chief Editor Frederic
Cassidy and Audrey R. Duckert), gave project focus and name.
• Collection took place 1965-1970
• Volume I, covering letters A-C, was published in 1985 (it went into a
fifth printing within a year of publication). Volume II (D-H) came out
in 1991, Volume III (I-O) in 1996, and Volume IV (P-Sk) in
2002. Volume V (Sl-Z)is scheduled for 2009.
How are words selected for the DARE?
• Entries come from face-to-face interviews
carried out in every state (1,002 communities)
between 1965 and 1970 and on a collection of
written materials (diaries, letters, novels,
histories, biographies, newspapers, and
government documents) covering U.S. history
from the colonial period to the present
• Conducted research in urban, large city, small
city, village, and rural communities.
• For use in personal interviews, the DARE Questionnaire
(QR) was created
– Asks questions about time, weather, topography,
houses, furniture, utensils, foods, abstract topics like
honesty and emotions, etc., with a total of 1,847
– Questions seek to establish regional or local name for
a single object or idea
– Researchers were careful not to guide their
respondents’ answers with leading questions.
• To evaluate pronunciation, informants
were asked to read the children’s tale,
"Arthur the Rat"
• Biographical info of each informant was
recorded (family background, education, race,
• Selection of informants:
• Had to be born in or near the selected community
• Could not have traveled long enough for speech to
have been affected
• Had to have English as home language
• Preferred older informants who had lived in the area
for a long time
• Tried to balance race, sex, age, education, and
community type
Received great reviews:
– “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
– The most exciting linguistic project going on in the United
William Safire, New York Times
Great in theory…
let’s see it in action!
you know, as in
“a lot”
Karen from New York
Identifies “mad” as “a word or
expression meaning violently angry.”
Southern States:
“mad as a wet hen”
In New Jersey:
“mad as a RED hen”
In New York:
“madder’n a hatter”
Rhode Island
the rest of the country thinks a bubbler means a bong.
So when I use the word in say California,
people think I am a pot-head.”
The Dictionary of American Regional English
would tend to agree…
However, in the North, North Midlands,
And especially in Wisconsin,
the term most frequently used is
drinking fountain.
On the other hand, in the
Mississippi-Ohio Valleys, “bubbler” means
bubbling fish;
a remarkable peculiarity of this fish is the
habit which it has of producing large
bubbles in quick succession while digging
through the mud or sand of a river.
Interestingly, two cities mentioned in particular were
Boston and Worcester, MA!!
would be used in the
same way that wicked is
used in New England, but it
is very apparent that only
people from the San
Francisco area (or north of
there) use it.”
Not surprisingly, the D.A.R.E.
doesn’t list “hella,” but it does
include “hellacious.”
Definition: Extreme quality or remarkable with respect to
a particular (usually negative) quality.
Arkansas (1975):
meaning fantastic,
or tremendous
Pennsylvania (1934):
Black student slang meaning
Florida (1966):
In response to D.A.R.E.
asking what one would call
“a mean or disagreeable person”
meaning “someone who works at the
recreational center in my town...
usually for a long time, doing
like grounds crew work,
sitting in chairs and
'monitoring' stuff....”
From New York, near Queens/Long Island
The term “parkie” is not mentioned in the dictionary.
the term that we know as
(chiefly used in Alaska)
is sometimes pronounced
by “old time Alaskans
and many natives.”
Amanda, David, and the
D.A.R.E. concur…
”jimmies” are
“tiny balls or
rod-shaped bits of candy
used as a
topping for ice cream, cakes,
and other sweets.”
At least that is how the term is used in the Northeast
In the South, the South Midlands, and the West,
the term is used in response to
“When something keeps bothering a person and makes him nervous…
It gives him the???”
In NYC, it means “delirium tremens”
which is associated with drunkenness.
Love that dirty water…
(Boston/New England Terms)
What do you call the things inside of this
Hoodsies!!! According to the DARE,
“hoodsie” is only used in MA. “Hoodsie– a
small paper cup of ice cream; it is the
trade name of H.P. Hoods and Sons,
Boston.” (DARE, p. 1082)
If I were to call you a “chowderhead,”
what would I mean by that?
DARE: chiefly New England. “A
stupid person, a dolt.” (p. 653)
What is a “packie?’
DARE: New England. “A liquor store.” (p. 5)
Just for fun…
• What does it mean to “bang a uey”?
• If I say I’m going to “Mehfuh,” where
exactly am I going?
Gateway to the West
Home of the Cards
St. Louis, MO…my home town
St. Louis-isms
If you're ever in St. Louis you'll notice
that people love to add "r"s to words.
People don't wash clothes they waRsh them!
Sorry Indiana, but in St. Louis, being called a "hoosier" is
an insult.
Never ask for a pop, ask for a soda.
Italian food is king.
Forget about barbeque, go to Kansas City for that.
Ted Drewes frozen custard is God's gift to St. Louis.
(from http://www.teo-computer.com/ppages/tim.html)
Kristen: “A hoosier is someone who is similar to a redneck…
kind of backwards, awkward, country bumpkin…”
She added, “A hoosier is someone who sticks his
wheelbarrow on top of his roof upside down
to cover a hole in the roof.”
In other words, “white trash”!!
Katie, who is a non-native St. Louisan:
“I think hoosier is a St. Louis term
used to describe a mix between white trash
and a redneck.”
As in, “there's a hoosier who lives down the
street from me who bbq's on his front lawn
and yells ‘gitter done.’”
Your fellow BC students say…
Survey of students from Long Island, Milwaukee, and Boston.
“Hoosier: one from Indiana.”
“Also the name of a basketball team.”
What do you think??
Hoo-zher: n
meaning “a hillbilly or rustic;
an unmannerly or objectionable person.”
Attributed chiefly to the South and South Midlands.
“Old King is one of the most perfect samples of a Hoosier Texan
I have met with. Fat, chubby, ignorant, and loquacious as
Sancho Panza…we could believe nothing he said”
(Gregg Diary, MO, 1800s).
Another feature of the D.A.R.E.
is pronunciation clarification.
(Spelling approximations compliments of text)
***Remember: Highway 40***
She had my nose open…
To get one’s nose open: to be
infatuated or in love;
to cause someone to be
infatuated or in love.
Probably refers to the flaring
nostrils characteristic
of the sexually aroused stallion.
This is attributed
to use among Black speakers.
Question: When a man goes to
see a girl often and seems
to want to marry her, he’s___
Also, A very special liking that a
boy may
have for a girl, or vice versa.
And that’s no lie!
She hurt your nose open, did

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