A Way with Words

Series produced by A Way with Words

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A Way with Words is a national, lively, hour-long public radio show about language, on the air since 1998. Author/journalist Martha Barnette and linguist/lexicographer Grant Barrett take listener calls about slang, grammar, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, and speaking and writing well. There are no carriage fees.

Learn more about the show, its hosts, and its history, and read station and listener testimonials on the A Way with Words website.


204 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
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Some people work hard to lose their accent in order to fit in when they move somewhere else. But others may be homesick for the sounds they grew up...

Bought by RADIOLEX, WYAP, WSLR, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), WNIN and more


  • Added: Nov 28, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
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A new book about how animals perceive their environment reveals immense worlds beyond our own. A bee can see ultraviolet light, catfish have taste ...

Bought by KTXK, WPCA-LP, RADIOLEX, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), WCMU Michigan and more


  • Added: Nov 21, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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Some college students are using the word loyalty as a synonym for monogamy. Are the meanings of these words now shifting? Plus, a biologist discove...

Bought by KAWC / Border Radio - KOFA, RADIOLEX, WYAP, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Nov 14, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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While compiling the Oxford English Dictionary, lexicographer James Murray exchanged hundreds of letters a week with authors, advisors, and voluntee...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, RADIOLEX, WYAP, WSLR, WPCA-LP and more


  • Added: Nov 07, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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Need a slang term that can replace just about any noun? Try chumpie. If you're from Philadelphia, you may already know this handy placeholder word....

Bought by KAWC / Border Radio - KOFA, RADIOLEX, WYAP, WSLR, WPCA-LP and more


  • Added: Oct 31, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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Diamond dust, tapioca snow, and sugar icebergs -- a 1955 glossary of arctic and subarctic terms describes the environment in ways that sound poetic...

Bought by KTXK, WYAP, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), WSLR, RADIOLEX and more


  • Added: Oct 24, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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It was a dark and stormy night. So begins the long and increasingly convoluted prose of Edwards Bulwer-Lytton's best-known novel. Today the annual ...

Bought by KTXK, WYAP, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), WSLR, WNIN and more


  • Added: Oct 17, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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High school students in Alabama share some favorite slang terms. If someone tells you to touch grass, they're telling you to get a reality check --...

Bought by RADIOLEX, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WSLR, WPCA-LP and more


  • Added: Oct 10, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Enthusiastic book recommendations! Martha's savoring the biography of Alexander von Humboldt, the 19th-century explorer, polymath, and naturalist w...

Bought by RADIOLEX, WYAP, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KTSW 89.9, WSLR and more


  • Added: Oct 03, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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A documentary film called My Beautiful Stutter" follows youngsters at a summer camp specifically for stutterers. It's a place for finding acceptanc...

Bought by RADIOLEX, KAWC / Border Radio - KOFA, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WSLR and more


  • Added: Sep 26, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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There are word nerds, and then there's the woman who set up a folding chair on sidewalks throughout the country, cheerfully dispensing tips about g...

Bought by RADIOLEX, WYAP, KTSW 89.9, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), WSLR and more


  • Added: Sep 19, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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We use the term Milky Way for that glowing arc across the sky. But how people picture it varies from culture to culture. In Sweden, that starry ban...

Bought by RADIOLEX, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), WYAP and more


  • Added: Sep 12, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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A caller wonders if she's being hypersensitive about the way her boss addresses her in emails. Can the use of an employee's first name ever reflect...

Bought by RADIOLEX, WYAP, WSLR, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Sep 05, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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The words tough, through, and dough all end in O-U-G-H. So why don't they rhyme? A lively new book addresses the many quirks of English by explaini...

Bought by WSLR, RADIOLEX, WNIN, WPCA-LP, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio) and more


  • Added: Aug 29, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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This week on A Way with Words: Language is always evolving, and that's also true for American Sign Language. A century ago, the sign for "telephone...

Bought by RADIOLEX, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WSLR, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio) and more


  • Added: Aug 22, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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This week on "A Way with Words": When there's no evening meal planned at home, what do you call that scramble to cobble together your own dinner? S...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, RADIOLEX, WYAP, WSLR, WNIN and more


  • Added: Aug 15, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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How long can a newly married woman be called a bride? Does bride apply only as long as her wedding day, or does it extend right on through the coup...

Bought by KVSC, RADIOLEX, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WSLR and more


  • Added: Aug 08, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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A librarian opens a book and finds a mysterious invitation scribbled on the back of a business card. Another discovers a child's letter to the Toot...

Bought by KTXK, WYAP, RADIOLEX, KTSW 89.9, WNIN and more


  • Added: Aug 01, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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Whether it's a Rubik's cube or a round of Wordle, why do so many of us find puzzles irresistible? A new book celebrates the allure and psychologica...

Bought by KTXK, WYAP, KTSW 89.9, RADIOLEX, KVSC and more


  • Added: Jul 25, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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You know that Yogi Berra quote about how Nobody ever comes here; it's too crowded? Actually, the first person to use this was actress Suzanne Ridge...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, RADIOLEX, WYAP, WNIN, WSLR and more


  • Added: Jul 18, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16