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Dictionary of American Regional English: some transposals.

When the American Dialect Society (ADS) was founded in 1889, one of the major goals of its charter members was to do for the United States what Joseph Wright was doing for England in compiling his English Dialect Dictionary. But of course the task of making a dictionary of the dialects of the United States was going to be a lot bigger because of the size of the country. So the Society began by publishing word lists made by professors who jotted down unfamiliar terms or expressions as they visited places new to them. For decades, lists were published in the ADS journals Dialect Notes (1890-1939) and Publications of the American Dialect Society (1944-).

But the First World War intervened, then came the Depression, then the Second World War, and no systematic plan had been made to carry out a dictionary project. Eventually, in 1962, a chief editor of the proposed dictionary was appointed (Fred Cassidy, a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin).

The various lists already collected were further supplemented by extensive fieldwork. Between 1965 and 1970, Cassidy arranged for 80 fieldworkers to visit 1002 communities across the US. The fieldworkers, armed with approximately 1600 questions about the local names for a variety of objects and activities, questioned almost 3000 people. The fieldworkers needed to capture as many of the old- fashioned words as possible. Those people had witnessed the rise of the automobile, the airplane, telephone, radio, television, general electrification, indoor plumbing, mechanization of farming--all tremendous changes in the way that US society works--and they would still have had the words for the objects and processes of bygone eras.

Editing of the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) began in 1975, with Volume I (Introduction and A-C) being published by Harvard University Press in the fall of 1985. Volume II (D-H) followed in 1991, Volume III (I-O) appeared in 1996, and Volume IV was published in 2002. Currently (September 2010), Volume V remains unpublished. On different webpages of the DARE website, it is noted that "Volume V will appear in 2010" and "Volume V is presently scheduled for publication in 2011".

From a logological perspective, there is a wealth of valuable material in the four DARE volumes so far published. I have spent a while turning the pages of DARE Volumes I-IV, looking for transposals of 10 or more letters. Following this work, I could have waited another year or two until Volume V has been published, but--as with most dictionary projects--dates tend to slip. I decided to share 100 of the best transposable words from DARE I-IV with readers of Word Ways now, rather than wait for Volume V.

I have checked the 100 DARE words against Webster's Third (W3) to ensure that none is already listed in that dictionary, thereby ensuring that the DARE words in this article are unlikely to have been "discovered" as transposable. By and large, the transposals of the DARE words are in W3, but I have included a few located in sources other than W3--these are defined and identified here. I particularly wanted the transposal of PENNY SOCIAL (=NANCY PELOSI) to appear in print during 2010, just in case the House speaker is defeated in the 2010 US midterm elections.

I hope to be able to add a further selection of transposals once DARE Volume V is published.

Much of the introductory text in this article is taken from the DARE website (, which I gratefully acknowledge.
DARE words / terms Transposals
 acting pole optic angle aldermites (plural of
misaltered (W2), misrelated (W2) aldermite) ambleshoot
smoothable (W2) antigoslin insolating ants-mashers
harassments apple shiner planisphere apron strap
pro-Spartan (W2) aquadiente inadequate blow adders
(plural of sword blade (W2) blow adder) blue martins (plural of
bus terminal (OED), subterminal blue martin) bottle-arsed (from
battledores bottle-arsed tupelo) cactus rose coruscates
careless pin alpine cress castermine
incremates (W2), metarsenic (W2),
 semitrance (a type of trance-like
 state ( charcoal
pit toparchical (W2) China plant plainchant
Chinese tag escheating clearstone
tolerances coarse coin occasioner, reoccasion (W2)
come-a-Christian iatromechanics (OED), Neocharismatic
 (a reference to Christians who have
 received Pentecostal-like experiences; conniverate
noncreative (W2), nonreactive constabule locust bean
contrarisome sermocinator (W2) coral teeth
trochleate (W2) cortenions (plural of consertion (Webster's
Revised Unabridged cortenion) Dictionary, 1998) cream
toast macrostate (OED) cream-shitters (plural
Christmas tree of cream-shitter) Denver omelette Love Me
Tender (Elvis Presley film and
 song from 1956; desert spoon
Prostenodes (a genus of moth in the family
 Geometridae, now considered a synonym
 of Anisodes; desert straw
streetwards (OED) dingnation innodating (W2)
don't-care-ish achondrites easing powder
spear widgeon (W2) Easter fire fire-eaters eddication
dedication engine tamer engerminate (W2) English rail
hell-raising (W3), narghillies (OED),
 raising hell (OED) false heart
heartleafs farmer's oil Miraflores (an upscale
district of Lima,
 Peru; farmer's oil
formaliser (OED quote) frolicated (from tolfraedic (W2)
frolicate) frolicates (from fortalices frolicate) gala-nipper
appareling gallinapper apparelling garde-soleil
allegorised (The Chambers Dictionary, 2008) German goiter
George Martin (record producer, especially
 of the Beatles;
ginger-tailed trailing edge glacier pine
recipiangle (W2) glummerins (from summerling (W2) glummerin)
go in halvers overlashing (W2) golondrina
lion dragon (W2) grab dinner brandering, rebranding (W2),
 ring bander (W2) great doin's
designator green strip perstringe grind organ
ranging-rod (OED) ground tea outranged groundswine
undersowing hame string nightmares hare tangle
Earth Angel (US doowop song by the
 Penguins from 1954;
hendersome shoe mender (W2) herricanes
rancheries (OED) horse ball tree helleboraster (W2) horse
scoop horoscopes horse smelt motherless
horsepital hospitaler, trophesial (W2) hot regions
reshooting (W2), soothering hotel prime thermopile
hurtingest reshutting (W2), shuttering languister
granulites, resaluting leader horse horse dealer (W2)
leather bat earth table leingister
leistering maniportia Maria Pinto (one of various
 designers used by Michelle Obama; nature-course
turneraceous nigger flea gingerleaf (W2) nigger hater
regathering night pasture straighten up no'theaster
earth tones oatsmobile maltobiose (OED) Oregon mist
ergonomist penetentir terpentine (OED) penny social
Nancy Pelosi (US congresswoman and Speaker
 of the House of Representatives; pestle-tail
paillettes, stipellate poison cedar scorpaenoid polecat
sumac Saccopetalum (a genus of plants in family
 Annonaceae; possum hair
aphorismus (a figure of speech that calls
 into question the meaning of a word; presmuterian
serpentarium rain go-devils devalorising (OED quote) redhead
teal death-dealer (OED) redtop cane
coparented (Random House Dictionary; 2010) roving Charley
overarchingly (American Heritage Dictionary
 of the English Language, Fourth
 Edition, 2000) sacred harp
sharp cedar salvagerous sugarloaves sand shiner
sanhedrins sangre de cristo Castres-Gironde (a commune in the
 department in Aquitaine in south-western
 France; saterfaction
fractionates scoot train cartoonist, ostraciont (OED),
 scortation (W2) second line
declension, indolences short sauce out-crashes (OED)
sidegodlin disloigned (W2) 

Darryl Francis

Thursby, Cumbria, England
COPYRIGHT 2010 Jeremiah Farrell
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Publication:Word Ways
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2010
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