Dictionary of American Regional English Qualitative Data Collection (DARE)


Joan Houston Hall, Chief Editor


From November 2013 to November 2014, the UWSC assisted the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), the world-renowned authority on dialectical variation in the United States, with a qualitative data collection effort. The 2013–2014 round of data collection, only the second in DARE’S history, was a pilot study to test the feasibility of collecting qualitative data by web and telephone in place of in-person interviewers. The pilot study was fielded only in Wisconsin.

In its first round of data collection, from 1965 to 1970, DARE interviewers crisscrossed the United States in vans called Word Wagons and conducted interviews with 2,777 people in 1,002 communities. Equipped with paper questionnaires, pencils, and reel-to-reel tape recorders, DARE interviewers identified “key informants,” community members who were knowledgeable about the everyday words used in their regions. The first round of DARE fieldwork, combined with printed citations, resulted in more than 60,000 dictionary entries.

In the 2013–2014 round, the UWSC collaborated with DARE staff to design an innovative web survey that reproduced the “key informant” qualitative methodology of the first round of interviews by allowing respondents to answer questions on topics that they felt knowledgeable about. More than 4,600 people participated in the web survey, providing more than 600,000 responses to questions about word usage in Wisconsin. Forty-two web survey respondents also were selected to participate in a telephone interview that audio-recorded their pronunciation and speaking style.


Ken Croes


Brendan Day


November 2013 – November 2014