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Frederic G. Cassidy, Founder of DARE

Although the idea of a dictionary of the dialects of American English had been promoted by the American Dialect Society (ADS) as long ago as 1889, the reality of that project did not begin to take shape until 1962, when Frederic Cassidy, Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, was appointed Editor and encouraged to start working in earnest. It's not that preparatory steps had not been taken in the six decades before then: the Society's journal Dialect Notes had published many lists of local words and phrases between 1890 and 1939; the journal American Speech started publication in 1925; and the Society's monograph series Publication of the American Dialect Society (PADS) , had been publishing relevant material since 1944. But no individual had offered to head the effort to survey the entire country and edit the findings in the form of a dictionary ....

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More Tributes on the DARE Website:

Commemorating Frederic Gomes Cassidy by August Rubrecht
- Unlike the ones who have spoken before me, I am not an intimate member of any of the circles Fred belonged to ....

In Memoriam: Frederic Gomes Cassidy by John Algeo
- Fred Cassidy belonged to a select tribe of twentieth-century scholars of American English respected for the depth of their knowledge, admired for the breadth of their interests, and loved for the humaneness of their natures ....

 

 


Frederic Cassidy, 92, Expert on American Folk Language, Dies
By JOHN H. CUSHMAN Jr
Published: June 15, 2000

Published by The New York Times

Frederic G. Cassidy, a lexicographer who followed his love of folk language into the nooks and crannies of Jamaica's creole and across the linguistic expanses of the United States, died yesterday in Madison, Wis. He was 92.

A professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Mr. Cassidy became the editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English, a sprawling work in progress that documents in continental scope how words, from the familiar to the peculiar, are used by speakers all over the country....

Frederic Gomes Cassidy was born on Oct. 10, 1907, in Kingston, Jamaica. His father was Canadian, his mother Jamaican. When he was 12 the family moved to Akron, Ohio, where he graduated from high school and began college at Akron University. Transferring to Oberlin College, he earned a bachelor's degree in 1930 and a master's in 1932. He received his doctorate in 1938 from the University of Michigan, where he married Helene Lucile Monod, a Frenchwoman and fellow student.

His wife died in 1980. He is survived by a sister, Helen Cassidy of Boca Raton, Fla.; his four children: Frederic, of Austin, Tex.; Victor, of Chicago; Michael, of Madison; and Claire of Bethesda, Md.; and seven grandchildren.

Mr. Cassidy's teaching career began at Oberlin in 1930 and continued during his graduate studies at Michigan, a time when he also lectured at the University of Strasbourg in France. He came to the University of Wisconsin in 1939 and was named a full professor in 1949. He taught linguistics, the history of the English language, and archaic literary classics like ''The Canterbury Tales'' and ''Beowulf.''

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