The dictionary team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is nearing completion of the final volume, covering “S” to “Z.” A new federal grant will help the volume get published next year, joining the first four volumes already in print.
“It will be a huge milestone,” said editor Joan Houston Hall.
The dictionary chronicles words and phrases used in distinct regions. Maps show where a subway sandwich might be called a hero or grinder, or where a potluck — as in a potluck dinner or supper — might be called a pitch-in (Indiana) or a scramble (northern Illinois).
It’s how Americans do talk, not how they should talk….
After the final volume is published, the next phase of the project will be to put the dictionary online. Hall envisions an online edition that will be updated constantly.
Hall said her all-time favorite word is bobbasheely, used in Gulf Coast states as a noun meaning a good friend or a verb to hang around with a friend. It comes from the language of the Choctaw tribes.
Two people interviewed in Texas and Alabama in the 1960s used the word. Further digging revealed that Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner had once used it in a novel, and it was used in the early 19th century by a colleague of former vice president and duelist Aaron Burr.
I have to say, bobbasheely is indeed a great word. It’s from Choctaw itibapishili ‘sibling’ [literally ‘one who was nursed together with (someone)’]; the first noun cite is from 1829, the first verb cite from 1932, and the Faulkner quote is from his last novel, The Reivers (1962): “You and Sweet Thing bobbasheely on back to the hotel now, and me and Uncle Remus and Lord Fauntleroy will mosey along.” (Via MetaFilter.)