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.


220 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
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The game of baseball has always inspired colorful commentary. Sometimes that means using familiar words in unfamiliar ways. The word "stuff," for e...

Bought by KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], RADIOLEX, WYAP, KTSW 89.9, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio) and more


  • Added: May 22, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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Barbara Kingsolver's book Demon Copperhead is a retelling of Charles Dickens' David Copperfield set in today's Appalachia. Martha shares memories o...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, WYAP, KECG, WPCA-LP, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio) and more


  • Added: May 15, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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How colors got their names, and a strange way to write. The terms "blue" and "orange" arrived in English via French, so why didn't we also adapt th...

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


  • Added: May 08, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Vocabulary that trickles down from the top of the world. Malamute, kayak, and parka are just some of the words that have found their way into Engli...

Bought by KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], RADIOLEX, WHCP-LP Cambridge, KTSW 89.9, WYAP and more


  • Added: Apr 24, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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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 KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KECG, WYAP, KTXK, RADIOLEX and more


  • Added: Apr 16, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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Is there such a thing as a "neutral" accent, and if so what does it sound like? And that quirk in the way Southern Californians talk about freeways...

Bought by KECG, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), RADIOLEX, WYAP, WHCP-LP Cambridge and more


  • Added: Apr 10, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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It's cats and dogs, and a few other critters, too. Animals prowl around inside several English words, including sleuth, which was originally sleuth...

Bought by Red River Radio Network (E. Texas/Louisiana/Arkansas/Mississippi), KTXK, KVSC, KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], WYAP and more


  • Added: Apr 04, 2023
  • Length: 30:50
  • 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 KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), RADIOLEX, RadioStPete Florida, WPCA-LP, WNIN and more


  • Added: Apr 03, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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This week on "A Way with Words": A magnificent new book celebrates the richness and diversity of 450 years of written and spoken English in what is...

Bought by KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), RADIOLEX, WPCA-LP, KTXK and more


  • Added: Mar 27, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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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 KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], WYAP, RADIOLEX, KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Mar 20, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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When a teenager went a week without talking as part of a school project, he noticed a surprising side effect: Instead of rehearsing a response to w...

Bought by KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], WPCA-LP, KTSW 89.9, WYAP and more


  • Added: Mar 13, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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How do you transform ancient Chinese script for use in the modern age? English uses a keyboard with just 26 letters, but the first Chinese typewrit...

Bought by KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KTXK, KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], WYAP, RADIOLEX and more


  • Added: Mar 06, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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We tend to take the index of a book for granted, but centuries ago, these helpful lists were viewed with suspicion. Some even worried that indexes ...

Bought by KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KTXK, KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], KTSW 89.9, WYAP and more


  • Added: Feb 27, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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If you're ever near a sundial, step closer and look for a message. Many sundials bear haunting, poetic inscriptions about the brevity of life. Plus...

Bought by KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], RADIOLEX, WYAP, KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Feb 20, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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This week on "A Way with Words": If you take up texting and social media late in life, there's a lot to learn! A 20-something wants advice getting ...

Bought by KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], RADIOLEX, KTSW 89.9, WYAP and more


  • Added: Feb 13, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Gossip goes by many names: the poop, the scoop, the lowdown, the dope, the scuttlebutt, the 411, the grapes, the gore, and hot tea. Plus, John Donn...

Bought by WHCP-LP Cambridge, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], KTSW 89.9, WYAP and more


  • Added: Feb 06, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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Ever wonder what medieval England looked and sounded like? In Old English, the word hord meant "treasure" and your wordhord was the treasure of wor...

Bought by KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], WPCA-LP, RADIOLEX, KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Jan 30, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Novelist Charles Dickens and the musician Prince were very different types of artists, but they also had a lot in common. A new book chronicling th...

Bought by KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), WYAP, RADIOLEX, KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Jan 23, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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Do you refer to your dog or cat as "somebody"? As in: When you love somebody that much, you don't mind if they slobber. In other words, is your pet...

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


  • Added: Jan 16, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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In just seconds, online text generators and chatbots can produce whole paragraphs of sophisticated prose. But what do advances in artificial intell...

Bought by WFAE, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KUAT, KAWC / Border Radio - KOFA, WEKU and more


  • Added: Jan 09, 2023
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 19