- Dictionary of American Regional English Volume VI: Contrastive Maps, Index to Entry Labels, Questionnaire, and Fieldwork Data ed. by Joan Houston Hall and Luanne von Schneidemesser
January 2012 saw the long-awaited release of the fifth and final primary volume of the celebrated Dictionary of American Regional English, and the recently-published Volume VI is an indispensable supplement to the material provided in the previous volumes.
This year marks 50 years since Frederic Cassidy was appointed editor and began to formulate the launch of a sweeping linguistic study that would become DARE. Although he missed his completion deadline of 1976 by more than three decades, the abundance of information within the sixth volume vindicates the five-year nationwide interview program by consolidating the material contained in volumes 1-5 and bringing forth additional material gleaned from the program. Indeed, although it may not always be obvious to readers, the sixth volume brings to light the fact that it is the interview program that unites and provides the backbone for the entire series. The fifth volume brought the alphabetical entries to a close with “zydeco” and included the complete bibliography for the project, but there remained such a large amount of supplemental material of interest and use to readers that it warranted an additional volume—even Cassidy himself, with his projection of five published volumes upon completion of the project, underestimated the immense amount of information the project would amass. The first five volumes comprise an incomparable wealth of American regional terms, and the final print volume provides a profusion of geographic and social contrastive maps, an index of the labels used in entries, the questionnaire used in the interviews conducted by field workers sent out by Cassidy from 1965 to 1970, and an abridged data summary of questionnaire responses.
Perhaps the most anticipated component of this volume is the Map Section, to which readers have been directed since the first volume. Long-time readers of DARE will undoubtedly be familiar with the presentation of the US map, whose unusual contours were designed for the purpose of representing population by state in 1965. Accordingly, states that had larger populations at the time are presented as being [End Page 230] physically larger. As has been the case since the first volume, the blank map in and of itself is interesting if for no other reason than serving as a visual representation of the country’s population distribution in the mid-1960s. However, in the hands of the DARE staff, the map takes on even more captivating incarnations. The questionnaire is the organizing principle of the order of the maps; in the first part of this section they are presented to display geographic territories, while the maps in the second part illustrate select responses categorized by various socio-demographic characteristics of informants.
The geographic subsection contains maps organized by subject, and each subject spans between one and several pages. The subject matter includes concrete categories addressing what DARE calls “neutral” subjects, such as weather, then moves to more “quotidian” subjects like foods and transportation, and lastly to “abstract” subjects, such as types and attitudes of people—an organizing structure that mirrors the subject progression of questions in the DARE questionnaire. Each subject is then further divided into specific “concepts,” which appear above the maps to which they pertain. A geographic map is provided below each of the terms, showing its distribution and allowing for easy comparison of the maps side by side—a feat that is virtually impossible to accomplish by using only the five preceding volumes (unless, of course, the reader enjoys butchering her volumes). For example, page 193 has maps for the terms “bone felon,” “felon,” and “runaround,” concepts which informants used to describe “A hard, painful swelling, often on a finger” (questionnaire item BB30). The three terms are found in volumes one, two, and four, respectively...