I stopped by the exhibit on the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) and found it fascinating. Brianna Ross from the Harvard University Press (HUP) explained it to me. DARE can tell you all the words in different parts of the country to describe the same thing. For example, “hoagie”, “grinder”, and “sub” all refer to a type of sandwich, and “soda” and “pop” are terms for a carbonated soft drink. Not only does DARE provide the cross references for the terms, but it also lists the parts of the country where they are prevalent.
DARE was begun in 1962 by Frederic Cassidy, Professor of English at University of Wisconsin-Madison and was just recently completed and published by HUP. Currently it consists of 5 massive volumes, and work is proceeding to put it online.
This is an amazing and fascinating product and one well worth following.