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Reviewers' Comments

See also: Users' Comments and UW-Madison 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, Dictionary.com

“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,
Time

“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

"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

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