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Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Dictionary of American Regional English Highlights Regional Dialects

Six months ago I shared Joshua Katz's Dialect Survey Maps (the maps take a long time to load) which highlight the differences in regional dialects in the continental United States. This morning, through Open Culture, I learned about the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) which also demonstrates the differences in dialects in the United States.

DARE is a dictionary of words and phrases that are unique to different regions and states within the U.S. Visitors can browse for words according to region and state or simply enter a word into the search box. DARE is a subscription service, but it does offer 100 words for free to all visitors.

Applications for Education
I might use DARE in a geography course or U.S. History course to have students learn a bit about the culture of different parts of the country. I would have students pick a word or two from the list and research it to try to determine how and why it became used in a region. For example, by looking at DARE we know that the word "lutefisk" is mostly commonly used in the upper midwest. I would ask students to think about why the word is used there, but not in the south or west.

(Hint for any of my students that might come across this, the answer is connected to immigration patterns).

Interactive History Animation - Daily Life in the Iron Age

Life in the Iron Age is a neat little series of animation from BBC History. Through the series of interactive animations students learn about how fires were started, bread was baked, and wool was spun during the Iron Age. In each animation students gather the materials needed to complete each activity. Each time a student picks up a new material they are shown a short passage of text about the material and how it was used in creating a fire, making bread, or spinning wool. At the end of each animation students have the option to take a short quiz about the activity they just studied.

Applications for Education
For middle school or elementary school students learning about the Iron Age, completing Life in the Iron Age could be a good activity to get students thinking about some of the fun minutiae of history rather than just the big picture themes of history.

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