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Dictionaries, 1(1979) DARE: THE VIEW FROM THE LETTER F Joan H. HaU Although the only truly satisfying viewpoint will be that from beyond the letter Z, the view as seen from inside the letter F can at least offer a tangible preview of what a reader can expect to find in the Dictionary of American Regional English. Previous articles about DARE1 have explained the inception of the project, its general principles, its data-gathering process, and its use of computer-generated maps and tables to provide analysis of geographical and social distributions. Now, however, enough editing has been completed that specific illustrations can be given of each kind of entry to be included. Projections can also be made as to their relative importance in the finished product. The actual entries which follow will serve to elucidate the methodology , and to illustrate the blend of standard lexicographic procedures with innovations unique to DARE. As of this writing, the letters A and E have been essentially completed, and B, C, D, F, G, H, I, L, and M are in progress. The letter F will provide the material for this preview because, having edited it I am particularly familiar with it, and because it seems to be as representative a letter as any in terms of length, initial clusters, and the lack of problems peculiar to it alone. The first thousand entries of F have been analyzed and tabulated, and it is that body of data which will provide the basis for estimations as to the relative proportions of types of entries in DARE. Since each letter will vary somewhat, the numbers must of course be seen as indicators, and not as final figures. Overview Before examining specific entries, let us take a look at the general shape of the whole. Assuming that F is indeed a representative letter and that its proportions can be extrapolated for the whole, it can be predicted that DARE will be composed largely of noun entries (68% in this section of F), followed by verbs (15%), adjectives (14%), adverbs (2.5%), interjections (1.6%), and prepositions (.7%).3 The emphasis on nouns will surprise no one; the ease with which objects are named and renamed to fit new environments and circumstances has long been appreciated. What is perhaps surprising is that the proportion of nouns in the first thousand DARE F entries is even smaller than that in the first thousand F entries in Webster's Third New International Dictionary. There, 75% of the entries are nouns. By further comparison, DARE has a heavy emphasis on verbs and verb phrases, with 15% as against only 6.2% 25 26JOAN H. HALL in the similar W3 sample. Proportions ofadjectives, adverbs, and prepositions are roughly comparable, with 12%, 3%, and .2% respectively in W3. Interjections, however, are much less frequent in W3, occurring only twice in the first thousand entries. The fuller treatment in DARE is in large part due to the inclusion in the Questionair of queries designed to elicit calls used in children's games and expressions used to express surprise, anger, dismay, annoyance, etc., most of which are simply not treated in W3. As for pronunciations, the only feature for which many readers consult a dictionary , DARE will treat them both more sketchily and more fully than do other dictionaries. They will be included only about 5% of the time (again, assuming that the first part of F is representative), but when they are included, au variants will be treated, with as clear a delineation as possible of their regional and/or social distributions. Pronunciations will not be given for standard words which have no significant phonetic or phonemic variation, nor will they be extrapolated or inferred without reliable transcriptions as evidence. (If a transcription appears uncertain, the quor in which it occurs may be included, but the transcription will not be used as the basis for the pronunciation given in the head of the entry. In the head section, broadly phonetic notation is used, set off by vertical strokes; more narrow transcriptions, indicated with brackets, are frequently included in the quots.) Likewise, etymologies will not be included for every entry — they appear in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 25-46
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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