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Hear the Interviews that Helped Build the Dictionary of American Regional English

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The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) is chock-full of weird and wonderful words about just about everything under the sun, from heavy rain (it’s raining the devil and pitchforks in Florida) and doughnuts (also known as fettiglich in German-speaking communities in Missouri) to being mad (all horns and rattles in the West) and getting drunk (in Georgia, you're cork high and bottle deep). Now you can hear those idioms, sayings, and slang terms straight from the horses’ mouths.

Eighteen hundred field recordings from DARE are now freely available online. Hosted by the University of Wisconsin’s Digital Collections Center, the recordings consist of interviews conducted throughout the country between 1965 and 1970. Echoing “the diversity and personality of America,” as Dr. Robert H. Moore, founding member of DARE’s Board of Visitors, puts it, the recordings capture dialect variations, regional accents and pronunciations (through readings of a story called "Arthur the Rat"), some of which have disappeared, as well as an oral history of that time.

So why did it take so long to make the recordings available? Because of privacy. Since completing the print volumes of the dictionary, staff, students, and volunteers from DARE spent four years removing personal information from the recordings (hence, the occasional bleep).

But there’s still a lot to hear—more than 900 hours’ worth, to be exact. According to DARE’s press release, you can learn about everything from “home remedies to burial customs, scuba diving to square dancing, making moonshine to landing on the moon.” You’ll also hear honest discussions about religion, race, war, and politics.

The list of wide-ranging topics you can plug into the searchable database do not disappoint. There’s bootlegging and basketmaking. Cockroaches and cooking utensils. There’s the intriguing Dairy Queen competition. There are ghost stories and the history of pineapples. There’s making jam, making molasses, and whiskey making. There’s possum hunting and eating. There are subways, superstitions, supernatural powers, and much more.

Whether you’re a history buff, a trivia geek, a word nerd, or an accent connoisseur, the DARE field recordings have something for you.

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How Often Is 'Once in a Blue Moon'? Let Neil deGrasse Tyson Explain
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From “lit” to “I can’t even,” lots of colloquialisms make no sense. But not all confusing phrases stem from Millennial mouths. Take, for example, “once in a blue moon”—an expression you’ve likely heard uttered by teachers, parents, newscasters, and even scientists. This term is often used to describe a rare phenomenon—but why?

Even StarTalk Radio host Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t know for sure. “I have no idea why a blue moon is called a blue moon,” he tells Mashable. “There is nothing blue about it at all.”

A blue moon is the second full moon to appear in a single calendar month. Astronomy dictates that two full moons can technically occur in one month, so long as the first moon rises early in the month and the second appears around the 30th or 31st. This type of phenomenon occurs every couple years or so. So taken literally, “Once in a blue moon” must mean "every few years"—even if the term itself is often used to describe something that’s even more rare.

[h/t Mashable]

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9 Grammatically Correct Gifts for Language Lovers
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Have a friend or relative who's quick to correct your typos? Give them a gift that celebrates their love of (grammatically correct) language.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of sales. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck gift hunting!

1. THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE ILLUSTRATED; $12

William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White's extensive—and sometimes snarky—guide to grammar was published in 1920, but it's still considered a go-to for writing purists who are wary of change. The bookshelf staple, with a foreword by Roger Angell and updated with 57 colorful illustrations by Maira Kalman, is sure to offer up hours of education (which is entertainment to the language lover in your life).

Find It: Amazon

2. PENCILS; $9

These pencils will help keep common homophones straight. The retro sets of five are decorated with gold foil letters hand-pressed onto the sides. The Etsy store also offers up a set of red pencils that feature short, grammar-positive statements.

Find It: Etsy

3. QUOTE EARRINGS; $9

High marks: The delicate metal earrings are about a half-inch tall, making them a subtle but charming choice for any punctuation lover.

Find It: ModCloth

4. *YOU'RE NECKLACE; $24 AND UP

*You're necklace
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The pendant, which comes in the material of your choice, is dedicated to a well-known pet peeve amongst the literate.

Find It: Etsy

5. PUNCTUATION POSTER; $36

Everyone knows about the question mark and the semicolon, but what about the interrobang? This simple poster, available in three different sizes and 60 different colors, celebrates the punctuation that really helps writers get their point across. It's printed on satin luster paper with ChromaLife 100 inks, creating a long-lasting piece of artwork.

Find It: Etsy

6. SHADY CHARACTERS; $12

Keith Houston's book offers up a thorough look at the history of the written word. Readers can learn about the rich stories behind punctuation marks, including tales that cover everything from Ancient Roman graffiti to George W. Bush.

Find It: Amazon

7. AMPERSAND MARQUEE; $19

The ampersand is a divisive punctuation mark in writing, but it's widely loved in design; the attractive logogram can be found everywhere from wedding invitations to tattoos. This metal light stands at almost 10 inches, making it a nice statement piece in any home.

Find It: Amazon

8. POP CULTURE PARTS OF SPEECH; $29

Grammar is even more accessible with the help of beloved pop culture characters. ET, Robocop, Holly Golightly, Walter White, and more all come together to help teach tricky grammar terms. The poster is broken down into seven basic parts: nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions.

Find It: Pop Chart Lab

9. OWL SHIRT; $15

Do you have a friend who's always correcting everyone with a stern "whom"? With the help of two owls, this shirt pokes light fun at two counterparts to the oft-neglected word. The lightweight, cotton shirt comes in a classic white with sizes for men, women, and children.

Find It: Amazon

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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