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.


215 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
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Secret codes, ciphers, and telegrams. It used to be that in order to transmit information during wartime, various industries encoded their messages...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, KRPS and more


  • Added: May 14, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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Funny cat videos and cute online photos inspire equally adorable slang terms we use to talk about them. When a cat leaves its tongue out, that's a ...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, WYAP and more


  • Added: May 07, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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The dilemma continues over how to spell dilemma! Grant and Martha try to suss out the backstory of why some people spell that word with an "n." At ...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, WYAP and more


  • Added: Apr 30, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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An Ohio community is divided over the name of the local high school's mascot. For years, their teams have been called the Redskins. Is that name de...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, WYAP and more


  • Added: Apr 23, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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This week on "A Way with Words": This week on "A Way with Words": Can language change bad behavior in crowded places? The Irish Railway system has ...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, WYAP and more


  • Added: Apr 16, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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If you think they refer to umbrellas as bumbershoots in the UK, think again. The word bumbershoot actually originated in the United States! In Brit...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, WUFT, KTSW 89.9, WSLR and more


  • Added: Apr 09, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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According to Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, it's important to master the basics of writing, but there comes a time when you have to strike out on y...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, WNJR and more


  • Added: Apr 02, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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Ever wonder whatever happened to responding to "Thank you" with the words "You're welcome"? A listener asks why so many radio interviews end with t...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, WUFT, KTSW 89.9, WSLR and more


  • Added: Mar 27, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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What's in a mascot name? Maybe you're a fan of the Banana Slugs, or you cheer for the Winged Beavers. Perhaps your loyalty lies with the Fighting A...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, KNVC Carson City Community Radio and more


  • Added: Mar 19, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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This week on "A Way with Words": Slang from the 19th century. The slang coming out of Victorian mouths was more colorful than you might think. A 19...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, WYAP and more


  • Added: Mar 12, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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The highly specialized vocabulary of people who work outdoors, like farmers and fishermen, can bring us closer to the natural world. Also, a woman ...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, KNVC Carson City Community Radio and more


  • Added: Mar 06, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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The stories behind symbols and expressions around the world. The peace symbol popular during 1960's antiwar demonstrations had been around for deca...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, WSLR, KTSW 89.9, KNVC Carson City Community Radio and more


  • Added: Feb 26, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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Gerrymandering is the practice of redistricting to tip the political scales. Originally, though, this strategy was called "GARY-mandering" with a h...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, WUFT, WSLR, WYAP and more


  • Added: Feb 19, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
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The only time you'll ever see the sun's outer atmosphere is during a full solar eclipse, when sun itself is completely covered. That hazy ring is c...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, WSLR, WYAP, KNVC Carson City Community Radio and more


  • Added: Feb 12, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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A second-generation Filipino-American finds that when he speaks English, his personality is firm, direct, and matter-of-fact. But when he speaks wi...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, WSLR, WRIR, WYAP and more


  • Added: Feb 06, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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Family words, and words about being in a family way. How many different ways ARE there to say you're have a baby on the way? Sure, you can say you'...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, RadioFreePalmer, WSLR, KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Jan 31, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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How would you like to be welcomed to married life by friends and neighbors descending on your home for a noisy celebration, tearing off the labels ...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, WEJP-LP 107.1, WSLR, KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Jan 25, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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New research shows that you may be less influenced by superstitious behavior like walking under ladders or the magic of four-leaf clovers if you're...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KXCR, WSLR, WEJP-LP 107.1 and more


  • Added: Jan 18, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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This week it’s butterflies, belly flowers, plot bunnies, foxes, and cuckoos. Also, writing advice from Mark Twain and a wonderful bit of prose from...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, KXCR, WEJP-LP 107.1 and more


  • Added: Jan 10, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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Pranks, cranks, and chips. As a kid, you may have played that game where you phone someone to say, "Is your refrigerator running? Then you better g...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, KXCR, WEZU and more


  • Added: Jan 05, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10