July 5, 2012

Dictionary of American Regional English

Book cover: Dictionary of American Regional English

Did you know that there are at least 174 different words to describe the soft rolls of dust that collect on the floor under your bed? Many call them dust bunnies, but others label them house moss, frog hair, cussywop, woofinpoofs, or even ghost manure. Joan Cartan-Hansen talks with Joan Houston Hall, the Chief Editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English, about the unique twists and turns of the American language.

Developing the Dictionary of American Regional English has taken more than 50 years. Hall and her scholars have recently released the Dictionary's fifth volume, Si-Z, as well as the sixth volume, which contains maps and regional indexes. The Dictionary of American Regional English explains more than 60,000 regional words and phrases. A valuable tool for researchers, it is also a fun read, one that gives us a fascinating look at American life.

Editor Joan Houston Hall, a graduate of the College of Idaho, was in Idaho as this year's Commencement speaker for that institution.