On Friday, December 21, our guest host Jan Levine Thal speaks with Joan Houston Hall, Chief Editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English. She speaks about the new companion volume to the dictionary, Volume 7. The volume features “212 ways of saying someone is stalling.”
Joan talks about the regional variations of a single word, such as a ‘sub sandwich’, which can also be called a gyro, hoagie or grinder. The new volume matches the regional words to their respective places on the maps, on the same page, so one can easily detect the regional variations. An online version will be launched at the end of 2013.
Joan speaks about regional words. ‘Scrid’, for example, is a New England word which means ‘fragment of something.’ She finds that “it seems that when a word is introduced that fills a need, it is adopted widely across the country very quickly.” The word “grid-lock,” Joan says, was quickly adopted across the country wherever situations like that came up. However, “the words that are regional that we use with our friends and families, tend to stay regional.” Joan provides the example of grandparents: from granny, grandma, nana, meema, to oma, “those are family words and ethnic words that reflect our backgrounds and those are not the kind of words that will be used as formal words.” Such words remain in their regions and do not become so widespread.
Jan also talks about American words that can be traced back through history with origins from multiple languages. For example, the Louisiana word “lagniappe” means “small bonus, or tip.” The word comes from French, but the French word came in through Spanish, which came in through Quechua.
Listen to more regional terms, audio, trivia, and quizzes at dare.news.wisc.edu
Visit the official website for the Dictionary of American Regional English.
Listen to the entire interview here: