Interesting article in today's Guardian about the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), which is now nearing completion.
The dictionary, which the writer Tom Wolfe once called "my favourite reading", began life in 1965 under the direction of Frederic Cassidy, an English professor who dispatched researchers to 1,000 American communities to administer questionnaires and make audio recordings.
Some slept in "word wagons" - vans bearing the name of the University of Wisconsin - and a handful were run out of town by hostile residents who might, depending on the region, have threatened to batterfang them. Cassidy died in 2000, having overseen the collection of 2.3m answers to his researchers' questions. His tombstone reads: "On to Z!"
The dictionary's current chief editor, Joan Houston Hall, said the project might never really end: the next step is to put it all online, where it might be constantly updated. "It's very exciting, but it doesn't feel like the end," Hall said. Full article >>