“A dictionary is never done,” said George Goebel, the third and, it turns out, final editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English, also known as DARE.
In January, 54 years after it was launched in an age of print and paper, America’s last national dialect dictionary and one of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s signature humanities projects, will close its doors forever.
The university archivist has hauled away boxes. Many more remain, containing decades’ worth of research and fieldwork. The shelves are emptying of books, the files of their paper slips describing each word. Some of the words themselves have vanished from use.
In the end, it was a lack of funding that did in DARE.
But on Friday, the staff refrained from tears, choosing instead to go out with a farewell celebration in the Lowell Center dining room, not far from the dictionary offices.