Wednesday April 22, 2015

Dictionary of American Regional English prepares to close down

Joan Hall, chief editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE).

Joan Hall, chief editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE). (Jeff Miller/U of Wisconsin-Madis)

After more than 50 years of defining local terms like "zori" and "antigodlin", the editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English says she may have to shut it down for lack of cash.

Joan Houston Hall says the dictionary's work is far from done. "Many people have the notion that because we're a mobile population and we often hear the same media that our language has become homogenized. I believe it has not but the only way we can demonstrate that is to do further research."

The dictionary's funding, both public and private, has dried up, and a crowd-source campaign has fallen well short of the $525,000 annual budget.  

That means we may soon have a harder time understanding what a Wisconsinite means they tell us they've just won at "sheep's head". Ms Houston Hall explains that is a term for a card game that originated in Germany. And what if a Nantucketer invites us for a rantum skoot? Without the dictionary how will we know it is "an outing with no definite destination?"