Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Dictionary of American Regional English needs help

A year ago, the spring was full of promise. The fifth volume of the Dictionary of American Regional English had just come out, the final volume, with index and apparatus, was due in the fall, and plans were in train to put the whole thing online.

But now an appeal from the editor, Joan Houston Hall, has come out, and the whole project is in dire straits. She writes, "We were not awarded federal and private grants we had anticipated  receiving; private gifts have declined precipitously; a major foundation that has provided a large gift annually for twenty years has decided it  must move on to other worthy projects; the UW has endured grave  reductions in state support, and the College of Letters and Science is unable to provide assistance."

As a consequence, the staff of the dictionary is to be given layoff notices, effective July 1. 

This is her appeal: "To let  language mavens and fans of DARE know that if they’d like to help us,  it’s easy to do. The home page of the DARE website  (  has a “Donate” button. It will take readers to a secure University of  Wisconsin Foundation site through which tax-deductible gifts can be given to DARE."

DARE is an ornament to scholarship and learning, an invaluable repository to the vigor and inventiveness and quirkiness and color of our national language. We have the full six volumes, but to lose the digital edition and to forfeit the continuing scholarship of the staff would be a calamity, a loss not easily repaired, if ever. 

So I am repeating Joan Houston Hall's appeal to you, in hopes that you, my readers, lovers of our language, will be moved to do something, however modest, to ensure that "Zydeco is not the end."


1 comment:

  1. What a shame if this very helpful dictionary were to… (let's not think about that!). This dictionary is a blessing for business people (advertisers), sales people who need to identify (and use) appropriate words for their sales district, novelists (who write dialog to fit their characters and where they live)… and so many more who want to get it right. Keep DARE going.