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What Is DARE?

The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) is a multi-volume reference work that documents words, phrases, and pronunciations that vary from one place to another place across the United States... read more...

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Word Tree

In 1992, DARE founder Frederic G. Cassidy contributed DARE materials for the Word Tree exhibit, which illustrates words that have come into American English from languages all over the world. The exhibit is at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, and is still available for viewing today.

DARE Volumes displayed

The full set of printed Volumes I-VI with the updated book jackets

There is much to interact with in the DARE-inspired, book art installation Voices: A Sculptural Book, recently on display at the UW–Milwaukee Union Art Gallery as part of the exhibition Bound and Beyond: Structure in Book Art. Chief Editor Joan Houston Hall participated in an artist panel on Friday, October 3, 2014 at UWM. From left to right: Laura Sims, Gallery Manager; Hall; Kristen Thielking, Voices co-creator, multi-media collaborative artist, and art faculty member at UW–Stevens Point; Max Yela, panel presenter, head of the Special Collections at UWM, and adjunct instructor of book arts in the Dept. of Art and Design; Kevin Brunett, Voices co-creator, multi-media collaborative artist, and art faculty member at UW–Stevens Point.  See more photos or watch a video about the installation. Photo courtesy of George Hall.

Jim Peck, host of the Milwaukee Public Television program "I Remember," interviews Joan Houston Hall. The program is now  available  MPTV/I Remember/program. Photo courtesy of George E. Hall

The Words Count Exhibit was on display at the University of Denver from March through July of 2015 under the name "Reduction/Revelation."  Former DARE Project Assistant Erin Meyer, who is now a librarian at the university, collaborated with DARE staff and Artist/Text Analyst Carrie Roy. Roy also presented a talk about the project. See more photos.

The Words Count: A Rantum Scoot through DARE exhibition returns to Madison. Go check it out at Memorial Library on the UW–Madison campus from Nov. 2–Dec. 30, 2015. See more photos.

The year 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  To celebrate, NEH highlighted 50 NEH-funded projects and the DARE project was one of them. In this photo, DARE staff contribute to NEH's social media campaign by showing why we love the humanities. 

Progress is best measured with cake! Recordings from 10 states were "bleeped" and completed in the Spring 2016 semester by four volunteer interns, one project assistant, one volunteer, and one staff member: South Dakota, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and New Jersey. Who knew progress could be so delicious? See more photos

Yet again, the DARE project was blessed with four fabulous interns this semester who helped prepare our recordings from the 1960s fieldwork for online publication. We are SO grateful for all their help. From L to R: Devan Valona, Dominic Weisse, Christa Berce, Lucy Sears.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

DARE in the Media

New in DARE: Bird’s Nest on the Ground, Allan Metcalf, Lingua Franca, The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 17, 2016
21 Pulpy Pieces of Lumberjack Lingo, Angela Tung, Mental Floss, July 26, 2016
17 Scrumptious Ice Cream Idioms from All Over the U.S., Angela Tung, Mental Floss, July 17, 2016

What are people saying about DARE?

"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

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