Many Language Log readers are no doubt familiar with the Dictionary of American Regional English, which I hailed in a Boston Globe column last year as "a great project on how Americans speak — make that the great project on how Americans speak." At the time, I was previewing DARE's fifth volume, which completed the alphabetical run all the way to zydeco. Since then, a sixth volume of supplemental materials has also been published, and plans are underway to launch the digital version of DARE, which would serve as an online home for future expansions and revisions. But now DARE editor Joan Hall passes along some troubling news about the dictionary's financial fate.
On the heels of our recent triumphs, DARE is experiencing a serious financial crisis. The situation is the result of a number of factors: we were not awarded federal and private grants we had anticipated receiving; private gifts have declined precipitously; a major foundation that has provided a large gift annually for twenty years has decided it must move on to other worthy projects; the UW has endured grave reductions in state support, and the College of Letters and Science is unable to provide assistance.
This leaves us in a very distressing situation, in which I have been obligated by University personnel rules to send layoff notices to the whole staff as of July 1, 2013. (My own position is in layoff status as of January 1, 2014, because I have a slightly different classification.)
I have spent most of my time in recent weeks writing appeals to former DARE supporters—foundation and individual—as well as potential new contributors. No luck yet.
What I hope that you will do is to help publicize our plight and let language mavens and fans of DARE know that if they’d like to help us, it’s easy to do. The home page of the DARE website (www.dare.wisc.edu) has a “Donate” button. It will take readers to a secure University of Wisconsin Foundation site through which tax-deductible gifts can be given to DARE.
We’re on the verge of publishing the digital edition, and we can’t fail now!
Please do consider giving what you can to help DARE survive, and spread the word among those who care about its continued existence. (John McIntyre of the Baltimore Sun, a longtime friend of DARE, has made a similar appeal.)