American Dialect Society   About ADS |  Email Discussion List |  Links  
Become A Member |  Words of the Year  
News |  Reference | Publications |    

Audio and Video Recordings

CD-ROM Dictionaries


Style and Grammar Guides


These pages included items collected or recommended by members of the society. They are by no means comprehensive or complete. Your submissions and corrections are always welcome!

There is also a page for ADS publications, a list of books by ADS members and a bibliography of dialect in literature.

We have included links to books available for sale from If you'd rather not purchase books, or if the book is out of print or not available for sale, don't overlook your library as a source. Often libraries will borrow books from other libraries and in turn loan them to you.

Reference Materials

Audio and Video Recordings

Yeah you rite! PUBLISHED New York, NY: Cinema Guild, 1985. CALL NUMBER PE2845.N4Y4. DESCRIPTION 1 videocassette (29 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in. NOTE VHS format. Looks at the linguistic diversity of New Orleans in this amusing study of the ways accent and dialect identify and influence the people who use them. Examples from vendors, children's games, social occasions, and people on the street illustrate their language as an indicator of social and economic rank, race, and neighborhood. RELATED AUTHOR Center for New American Media. Cinema Guild. SUBJECT English language —Social aspects —Louisiana —New Orleans. Speech and social status —Louisiana —New Orleans. New Orleans (La.) —Social life and customs.

CD-ROM Dictionaries

This list was compiled by Daniel Long and posted to ADS-L February 28, 1998. Although the entries may not specify, many of these are available for both the Windows and Macintosh platforms.

Creswell, Thomas. "American Dictionaries on CD-ROM" (review article). Journal of English Linguistics , v. 24, no. 4, Dec. 96, p.358.

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary , (1993) 10th ed.(CD-ROM). Merriam-Webster, Springfield, MA.

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (1992). 3rd ed. CD-ROM. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Oxford English Dictionary (1989). 2nd. ed. CD-ROM. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Webster's New World Dictionary (1994). 3rd college ed. CD-ROM. Simon and Schuster.

Longman Dictionary of the English Language, on a CD-ROM called Infopedia UK (Softkey).

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 3rd edition, CD-ROM Natural Language Processing version, must apply for usage at

Longman Interactive American Dictionary and Longman Interactive English Dictionary

Webster's Unabridged Dictionary : Based on the Second Printed Edition, Newly Revised and Updated. (1996) Random House ISBN: 0-679-44998-1.

The Chambers Dictionary , on PC CD-ROM at

Standard Dictionary of the English Language for Windows. The Inductel Standard Dictionary (formerly known as the Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary) Order online at for US$49.95 .

The MegaLex Macquarie Concise Dictionary , revised second edition, CD-ROM.

Samuel Johnson: A Dictionary of the English Language , edited by ANNE McDERMOTT, University of Birmingham, Cambridge University Press Electronic Publishing, Price: 195.00 pounds sterling, excluding VAT or $295.00.

American Heritage Talking Dictionary , 5th Edition - Compton's Home Library. Available in Mac and Windows versions.

Webster's New World Dictionary & Thesaurus.

General References

My wife and I keep lots of Merriam-Webster Collegiates (various editions) handy near our computers and our favorite sitting-around places. We use them for easy reference because we both were reared on the Collegiate back in grade and high school. When we have serious questions, we usually check OED against the MW 3rd International . . . We give the edge to OED for the usefulness of its citations, but we also have lots of faith in the 3rd International. From time to time we throw in the Random House for good measure, and it's good, but we tend to rely much more on OED and the 3rd. It's only when we aren't fully satisfied with OED, the 3rd, and Random House combined that we go to more specialized stuff (ranging from Partrdige to Maurer to anything else that we think of that might help).

Style Guides
See the
links page for online style guides.

The Chicago Manual of Style. Reasonably comprehensive and authoritative.

The best book on usage, as you'll undoubtedly hear from many, is Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Edited by E. Ward Gilman. Merriam-Webster, 1989. It's so superior because it doesn't just prescribe, but also gives the evidence: facts, history, citations.

Gregg Reference Guide

Anita K. Barry's English Grammar: Language as Human Behavior (Prentice hall, 1998) and it looks like it might fit the bill. Its chapters read "What are Nouns," "What are prepositions," etc., and each chapter contains practice exercises.

Elements of Style, now in its 15th+ edition — 16th, maybe. It's short, simple, easy to use, not fussy. No theory, just practical advice.

The Texas Law Review Manual on Usage and Style, a tiny book, used often by law reviews.

Woe is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O'Conner (Putnam's, 1996) and The Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed by Karen Elizabeth Gordon (Random House, 1984).


Kate Turabian's classic Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations because it seems to help students with varying levels of problems. (That's U of Chicago Press, various editions — the most recent of which have a coauthor, but I don't remember who it is.)

Wolfram's Dialects and American English and Davis' English dialectology

Celia M. Millward, in her Biography of the English Language

John C. Wells' Accents of English, in two volumes.

Linguistics for Students of Literature by Elizabeth Closs Traugott and Mary Louise Pratt (1980)

Style in Fiction by Geoffrey N. Leech and Michael H. Short (1982)

Dialects and American English by Walt Wolfram (1991), Prentice Hall. Important news: this is out of print BUT is coming out in a new edition this year, co-authored (I believe) by Natalie Schilling-Estes.

James Paul Gee, An Introduction to Human Language: Fundamental Concepts in Linguistics Prentice Hall, 1993

Joseph C. Blumenthal, English 3200: A Programmed Course in Grammar and Usage New York: Harcourt Brace, 1994. It's essentially "school" grammar, and some of my students did not like programmed instruction, but anybody who ever worked through the program could not help but learn grammar and usage. This book was pioneered in the early sixties, was "desexed" in the eighties, and given "writing applications" in the fourth edition (1994). The grammar and usage which the program teaches is mostly the stuff that those of us who are legally old learned in elementary school but which today is only to be found in graduate linguistics courses for the gifted and talented. It's ideal for self-study and much, much cheaper than the computerized "programs" that teach English fundamentals. There are smaller versions entitled English 2400 and English 2600, but the program is essentially the same. The numbers refer to the number of frames [Bit of instruction] in the books. The same books come in both "school" and "college" editions, but the program is identical in each. Many of my colleagues didn't like English 3200 because it didn't leave them anything to do. However I found that it freed me to teach writing.

Origins and Development of the English Language, Thomas Pyles and John Algeo