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.


207 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
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Echoes of the Greatest Generation, and a tasty bite of history. The language and melodies of military marching songs can connect grown children wit...

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


  • Added: Jan 07, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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Clean cursing for modern times, more about communicating after a brain injury, and 1970's TV lingo with roots in the Second World War. A young woma...

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


  • Added: Jan 01, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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Novelist Charles Dickens created many unforgettable characters, but he's also responsible for coining or popularizing lots of words, like "flummox"...

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


  • Added: Dec 25, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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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 Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WYAP and more


  • Added: Dec 17, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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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 Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WEZU and more


  • Added: Dec 10, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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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 WPCA-LP, Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, KNVC Carson City Community Radio and more


  • Added: Dec 06, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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If you want to be a better writer, try skipping today's bestsellers, and read one from the 1930's instead. Or read something besides fiction in ord...

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


  • Added: Nov 26, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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A caller with a 25-year-old parrot wonders: How much language do birds really understand? Plus, Knock-knock. Who's there? Boo. Well . . .  you can ...

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


  • Added: Nov 19, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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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 Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WYAP and more


  • Added: Nov 12, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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Sending someone a care package shows you care, of course. But the first care packages were boxes of food and personal items for survivors of World ...

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


  • Added: Nov 05, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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Victorian slang and a modern controversy over language and gender. In the early 1900's, a door-knocker wasn't just what visitors used to announce t...

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


  • Added: Oct 29, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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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 Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WYAP and more


  • Added: Oct 22, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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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 Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WEZU and more


  • Added: Oct 15, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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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 Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WYAP and more


  • Added: Oct 09, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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A stereotype is a preconceived notion about a person or group. Originally, though, the word stereotype referring to a printing device used to produ...

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


  • Added: Oct 01, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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Sometimes it's a challenge to give a book a chance: How many pages should you read before deciding it's not worth your time? There's a new formula ...

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


  • Added: Sep 24, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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In deafening workplaces, like sawmills and factories, workers develop their own elaborate sign language to discuss everything from how their weeken...

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


  • Added: Sep 17, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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Sensuous words and terms of endearment. Think of a beautiful word. Now, is it simply the word's sound that makes it beautiful? Or does its appeal a...

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


  • Added: Sep 10, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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How often do you hear the words campaign and political in the same breath? Oddly enough, 19th-century grammarians railed against using campaign to ...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KVSC, KTSW 89.9, KAWC / Border Radio - KOFA and more


  • Added: Sep 04, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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The names of professional sports teams often have surprising histories -- like the baseball team name inspired by, of all things, trolley-car accid...

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


  • Added: Aug 27, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7