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.


217 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
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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 KUAT, Tri States Public Radio, KTXK, KZMU Moab Community Radio, WCMU Michigan and more


  • Added: Aug 10, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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We have books that should be on every language lover's wish list, plus a couple of recommendations for history buffs. Plus: how did the word boondo...

Bought by KUAT, Tri States Public Radio, KTXK, KQRU FM LP, WCMU Michigan and more


  • Added: Aug 04, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
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Are there words and phrases that you misunderstood for an embarrassingly long time? Maybe you thought that money laundering literally meant washing...

Bought by KUAT, Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTXK, RadioStPete Florida and more


  • Added: Jul 27, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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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 KUAT, Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTXK, KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Jul 20, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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If you catch your blue jeans on a nail, you may find yourself with a winklehawk. This term was adapted into English from Dutch, and means "an L-sha...

Bought by KUAT, Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTXK, KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Jul 13, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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An artist asks strangers to write haiku about the pandemic, and gets back poetic, poignant glimpses of life under lockdown. Plus, the new book Quee...

Bought by KUAT, Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTXK, WSLR and more


  • Added: Jul 06, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Perfect sentences and slang that tickles your mind. A new book of writing advice says that a good sentence "imposes a logic on the world's weirdnes...

Bought by KUAT, Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTXK, KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Jun 29, 2020
  • 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 KUAT, Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, WSLR, KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Jun 23, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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In 1803, a shy British pharmacist wrote a pamphlet that made him a reluctant celebrity. The reason? He proposed a revolutionary new system for clas...

Bought by KUAT, Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTXK, KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Jun 15, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Silence comes in lots of different forms. In fact, says writer Paul Goodman, there are several kinds: There's the noisy silence of "resentment and ...

Bought by KUAT, Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, Royalton Community Radio and more


  • Added: Jun 08, 2020
  • 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 KUAT, Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, Royalton Community Radio and more


  • Added: Jun 02, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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A clever pun can make the difference between a so-so phrase and a memorable one. The phrase "the last straw" refers to an old fable about too many ...

Bought by KUAT, WUOT 91.9 FM, Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: May 26, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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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 KUAT, Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KOJB 90.1 FM The eagle, KVSC and more


  • Added: Apr 13, 2020
  • 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 ...

Bought by KUAT, Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, WYAP, KTXK and more


  • Added: Mar 30, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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Have you ever googled your own name and found someone else who goes by the very same moniker? There's a word for that: googleganger. Plus, the lang...

Bought by KUAT, Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KVSC, WYAP and more


  • Added: Mar 18, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
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Questions from young listeners and conversations about everything from shifting slang to a bizarre cooking technique. Kids ask about how to talk ab...

Bought by KMXT, KUAT, Radio Kansas, Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP and more


  • Added: Mar 26, 2019
  • Length: 25:59
  • Purchases: 8
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Our youngest listeners have questions about everything from love to one of their favorite foods. Kids ask why we might end a text with the letters ...

Bought by KUAT, KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KMXT, 90.1 WFYI Public Radio and more


  • Added: Aug 30, 2017
  • Length: 29:45
  • Purchases: 9