Donors help fund regional dialect dictionary - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Donors help fund regional dialect dictionary

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Three months ago, the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) was looking at its final volume and the end of its 50-year run, due to federal sequester cuts and the recession.

Its chief editor Joan Houston Hall and her staff were all facing unemployment.

"I had to write my own layoff letter for the chairman to sign," Hall said.

However, about a month ago, donations starting coming in, with enough to keep DARE afloat for at least another year.

"What's been gratifying in the last few weeks is that whole coalition has come together again. We've had federal help. We've had university help," Hall said.

This includes a gift of $100,000 from an anonymous donor. This proved to be enough to continue developing DARE's online edition, which launches in the fall.  

"One of the wonderful things about the digital edition is that whenever we include a quotation from one of the people who made an audio recording 50 years ago, you'll be able to click a little icon and actually hear the person speaking," Hall said.

Besides the online edition, DARE will also be conducting a new pilot study asking Wisconsinites 1,800 questions. For example: What do you call the device you use to change the channel? Or the machine you use to withdraw money?

With additional funds, DARE is safe for another year. Though, Hall says they'll continue looking for funds.

"There's still a tremendous amount to be learned. And it's important for us to learn the phrases and the pronunciations of our regions," Hall said.

Hall also says that funds had slowed down because they'd gotten to the letter "Z," causing some people to think their work was done. However, with six volumes and an online edition on the way, Hall says their work is never over as long as our language keeps evolving.

For more information about DARE, click here.

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