Pungle, Nebby, Oh My! Folksism Dictionary Is Almost Done

Experts fear Twitter's effect on local lingo
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2009 2:36 PM CDT
The Dictionary of American Regional English, founded by Frederic Cassidy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is nearing completion of its final volume of text covering S to Z.   (AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger)
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(Newser) – Do you know what a “mumble squibble” is? How about a “elbedritsch”? When the final volume of the Dictionary of American Regional English comes out next year, a decades-in-the-making collection of odd vernacular from across the country will be complete at last, NPR reports. "It's very helpful because it's really more descriptive than prescriptive," the Dictionary’s editor says.

The DARE project was started in the 1950s by the linguist Frederic Cassidy, with the first volume published in 1975. Though Cassidy didn’t live to see it through—his tombstone reads "On to Z!"—DARE has helped with everything from deciphering Bill Clinton’s Arkansas-isms to solving crimes. But some worry that, as online communication homogenizes language, the dictionaries will become the last evidence of extinct sayings. "We're living in a world of 140 characters or less on Twitter," an expert says.