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.


221 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
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Some TV commercials launch catchphrases that stick around long after the original ads. The exclamation Good stuff, Maynard! is still a compliment a...

Bought by WYAP, WSLR, WNIN, WPCA-LP, KNVC Carson City Community Radio and more


  • Added: Nov 29, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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Asthenosphere, a geologist's term for the molten layer beneath the earth's crust, sparks a journey that stretches all the way from ancient Greece t...

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


  • Added: Nov 22, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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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 KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WSLR, WNIN, WPCA-LP and more


  • Added: Nov 16, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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Amid court-ordered busing in the 1970s, a middle-school teacher tried to distract her nervous students on the first day of class with this strange ...

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


  • Added: Nov 08, 2021
  • 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 KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WSLR, WPCA-LP, WNIN and more


  • Added: Nov 01, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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In the 15th century, the word respair meant "to have hope again." Although this word fell out of use, it's among dozens collected in a new book of...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, KTXK, WSLR, WYAP, KNVC Carson City Community Radio and more


  • Added: Oct 25, 2021
  • 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 KTXK, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WSLR, WNIN and more


  • Added: Oct 18, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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What happens in a classroom of refugee and immigrant youngsters learning English? Their fresh approach to language can result in remarkable poetry ...

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


  • Added: Oct 11, 2021
  • 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, KTXK, WYAP, WSLR, WNIN and more


  • Added: Oct 04, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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An ornithologist says there's a growing movement to change the name of a pink-footed bird currently called the flesh-footed shearwater. The movemen...

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


  • Added: Sep 27, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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In 1971, when a new public library opened in Troy, Michigan, famous authors and artists were invited to write letters to the city's youngest reader...

Bought by KTXK, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, WPCA-LP, WNIN and more


  • Added: Sep 20, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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There was a time when William Shakespeare was just another little 7-year-old in school. Classes in his day were demanding -- and all in Latin. A ne...

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


  • Added: Sep 13, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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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 KTSW 89.9, KTXK, WYAP, WSLR, WPCA-LP and more


  • Added: Sep 07, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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Youngsters want to know: What's the difference between barely and nearly, and what's so clean about a whistle, anyway? Plus, adults recount some mi...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, Tri States Public Radio, and RADIOLEX


  • Added: Sep 04, 2021
  • Length: 23:35
  • Purchases: 3
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The adjective canine refers to dogs, and feline refers to cats. But how does English address other groups of animals? Plus, cabin fever has been ar...

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


  • Added: Aug 30, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Cat hair may be something you brush off, but cat hair is also a slang term that means "money." In the same way, cat beer isn't alcoholic -- some pe...

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


  • Added: Aug 24, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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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, WYAP, WSLR, WNIN, WPCA-LP and more


  • Added: Aug 17, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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Throwing cheese and shaky cheese are two very different things. In baseball, hard cheese refers to a powerful fastball, and probably comes from a s...

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


  • Added: Aug 03, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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One secret to writing well is . . . there is no secret! There's no substitute for simply sitting down day after day to practice the craft and learn...

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


  • Added: Jul 26, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Old. Elderly. Senior. Why are we so uncomfortable when we talk about reaching a certain point in life? An 82-year-old seeks a more positive term to...

Bought by KTXK, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WPCA-LP, KNVC Carson City Community Radio and more


  • Added: Jul 19, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17