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DARE celebrates completion at ‘shindy’

May 8, 2012 By Stacy Forster

It was a whoopensocker of a night at the Madison Club last Friday, where the people behind the Dictionary of American Regional English, as well as friends of the project, came together to celebrate its completion.

Photo: Robert Cottingham art

This Robert Cottingham work, featuring the letter “Z,” was presented to DARE editor Joan Houston Hall.

The fifth volume of DARE, covering Sl-Z, was published in March by Harvard University Press. The crowd and the “shindy,” or social gathering, noshed on regional treats whose names are found the dictionary, from bear claws (pastries) to squeaky cheese (cheese curds), from hush puppies (fried corn bread) to Cuban sandwiches.

Interim Chancellor David Ward joked that he’s been around UW–Madison long enough to remember DARE’s early days, when original editor Fred Cassidy was getting the project started. At the party were Cassidy’s children and grandchildren, as well as four of DARE’s original field workers, who were sent across the country to conduct interviews and gather the words that would eventually comprise the dictionary.

“There were many times I saw the perseverance that he brought to this project and there were occasionally words that provoked me to believe that even though this language is allegedly English, something really drastic happened when it crossed the Atlantic,” joked Ward, a native of Manchester, England. “(DARE) has given UW–Madison scholarly visibility in ways that relatively few other major projects have.”

In celebration of Cassidy’s mantra “On to Z!,” Ward presented DARE editor Joan Houston Hall with a print of the letter “Z” from the Robert Cottingham alphabet series from Tandem Press.