A Dictionary of American Dialect

Thursday, February 02, 2012

If you've got a copy of the Dictionary of Regional English, you know that "hotdish" is a casserole-style meal popular throughout Minnesota. A "quahog" is common word for "clam" in New England. And "Euchre" is a card game beloved by Midwesterners of all stripes. Next month the final volume of the Dictionary of American Regional English, or DARE, will be released by the Harvard University Press.

It's a project that started in the 1950s, the singular passion of linguist Frederic Cassidy. Since then, the DARE's editors have compiled 60-thousand of regionalisms found across the U.S.

We're joined now by Joan Houston Hall, chief editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English.


Joan Houston Hall

Produced by:

Joseph Capriglione and Kristen Meinzer

Comments [9]

outside Boston

In New England we don't have milk shakes we have frappes.

Feb. 02 2012 05:49 PM
Rob S from Pittsburgh

In Pittsburgh we say,
"yinz" meaning you guys or you all.
"buggy" meaning shopping cart
"gumband" meaning rubber band.
"warsh" meaning to wash clothes.

Actually, when I think about it we have a kind of "lazy" speech.
What's up with that?

Feb. 02 2012 10:04 AM
Andrea from Warwick, RI

The Rhode Island pronounciation of bubbler is also regional it is "bubb-lah". I moverd to RI in the 80s and read a doctors note stating that the patient coudl have a coffee cdabinet at his bedside. I wondered whey the doctor was writing an order for a piece of furniture. I found out a cabinet was a milkshake (milk and ice cream).

Feb. 02 2012 10:03 AM
Murphy from Ipswich, MA

In NE, if you buy scrod at the fish market, then it's usually cod or pollock, but if you paid more than a few bucks per pound, then you got scroo-ed.

Feb. 02 2012 09:43 AM
Edward Burke

An insult (or something distinctly not complimentary) from the Low Country of South Carolina: "peasy-headed". Never determined whether the speaker imputed peas-for-brains to the recipient or whether cranial capacity was being cited.

Feb. 02 2012 09:33 AM
Ansi Vallens from New York

Regionalisms for the same sandwich:
Hero: New York
Grinder: Boston
Wedge: Northeast Westchester County, NY and Fairfield County, CT
Torpedo: Connecticut
Po Boy: New Orleans
Submarine for all those who don't know better.

Feb. 02 2012 09:31 AM
Daniel Kusrow from Staten Island, NY

Did the WPA Regional State Guides from the 1930s play any role in providing words for the DARE?

Feb. 02 2012 09:29 AM
mary beth from boston

Here in Boston we buy booze at the corner "packie", short for "package store".

Feb. 02 2012 09:23 AM
Mr. Knowitall from New York

When I was a kid Polish people were often used as the butt of jokes involving stupid workmen and called Pollocks. When I went to the UK its the Irish who were the butt of jokes but Poles were seen as intellectuals. The reason is that Poland's intellectual elite created the first computer, helped break Enigma, and flew int he RAF. The Irish were economic refugees. In the US the Polish were refugees at the end of the 19th century and hence inherited the classist role as the butt of jokes.

Another interesting linguistic anomaly is the use of the working reckon, which is seen as the language of farmers and hillbillies in the US. Everyone in the UK, from the Queen on down says "I reckon" in regular speech.

Feb. 02 2012 09:13 AM

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