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Saturday, February 25, 2012

American Regional English: Vestiges of an Empire

In 2012, a mere fifty years after the project had begun, the fifth volume of the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) was finally done. Sadly, the project’s director, Frederic Cassidy, had died in 2000 at the ripe old age 90. “On to Z” had been his typical way of ending phone conversations. Visiting the dictionary’s offices some years ago—ironically to use their French dictionary—I had no idea of the size of the project. Instead, I engaged a few of the staff on my thesis that regional “Englishes” in the U.S. are only natural, given the empire-scale of the republic of republics. In fact, I would argue that it is unnatural that there are not more linguistic differences from Maine across the continent and up to Alaska and over to Hawaii.

The full essay is at Essays on Two Federal Empires.