471 episodes

Light-hearted conversation with callers from all over about new words, old sayings, slang, family expressions, and language change and differences, as well as word histories, etymology, linguistics, regional dialects, word games, grammar, books, literature, writing, and more. Listeners of all backgrounds can join author/journalist Martha Barnette and linguist/lexicographer Grant Barrett on the show with their language thoughts, questions, and stories: https://waywordradio.org/contact or words@waywordradio.org. Call any time toll-free 24/7 in the U.S. and Canada 1 (877) 929-9673 or worldwide +1 619 800 4443. Past episodes and show notes: https://waywordradio.org/.

A Way with Words - language, linguistics, and callers from all over Hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett. Produced by Stefanie Levine.

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.6 • 1.8K Ratings

Light-hearted conversation with callers from all over about new words, old sayings, slang, family expressions, and language change and differences, as well as word histories, etymology, linguistics, regional dialects, word games, grammar, books, literature, writing, and more. Listeners of all backgrounds can join author/journalist Martha Barnette and linguist/lexicographer Grant Barrett on the show with their language thoughts, questions, and stories: https://waywordradio.org/contact or words@waywordradio.org. Call any time toll-free 24/7 in the U.S. and Canada 1 (877) 929-9673 or worldwide +1 619 800 4443. Past episodes and show notes: https://waywordradio.org/.

    When Pigs Fly - 23 May 2022

    When Pigs Fly - 23 May 2022

    Don’t move my cheese! It’s a phrase middle managers use to talk about adapting to change in the workplace. Plus, the origin story of the name William, and why it’s Guillermo in Spanish. And a five-year-old poses a question that puzzles a lot of people: Why is the letter Q so often followed by a U? All that, and adynaton, an assonant quiz, do it up brown, salt of the earth, haven’t grown gills yet, wooling, a silly joke about the number one, a poem about regret, and hide-and-seek calls, such as Ole Ole Olson all in free!
    Read full show notes, hear hundreds of free episodes, send your thoughts and questions, and learn more on the A Way with Words website: https://waywordradio.org/contact. Be a part of the show: call 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the United States and Canada; worldwide, call or text/SMS +1 (619) 800-4443. Email words@waywordradio.org. Twitter @wayword. Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation.
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    • 53 min
    Cool Beans (Rebroadcast) - 16 May 2022

    Cool Beans (Rebroadcast) - 16 May 2022

    If you speak a second or third language, you may remember the first time you dreamed in that new tongue. But does this milestone mean you're actually fluent? And a couple's dispute over the word regret: Say you wish you'd been able to meet Albert Einstein. Can you regret that the two of you never met, or is there a better word for a situation over which you have no control? Can the word regret include simply longing for something? Plus, a sixth-grader wonders about a weird word on her spelling bee study list. It's spelled X-Y-L-Y-L -- and it's not just for Scrabble players. Plus, hot as flugens, to play Box and Cox, twack and twoc, a quiz for canine lovers, an eloquent appreciation of libraries, a widow's moving thank-you note, a punny gardening joke, a funny newspaper correction, and a trick with a hole in it. Cool beans!
    Read full show notes, hear hundreds of free episodes, send your thoughts and questions, and learn more on the A Way with Words website: https://waywordradio.org/contact. Be a part of the show: call 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the United States and Canada; worldwide, call or text/SMS +1 (619) 800-4443. Email words@waywordradio.org. Twitter @wayword. Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation.
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    • 53 min
    You Talk Like a Sausage - 9 May 2022

    You Talk Like a Sausage - 9 May 2022

    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 a somebody or a something? Also, for centuries, there was little consistency in the way many English words were spelled. But long before the printing press helped to standardize spelling, powerful historical forces were already shaping how those words looked on the page. Plus, Irish words that are as handy as they are fun to say: bockety, which describes something wobbly, and segotia, a fond term for “friend.” And ship vs. yacht, rope vs. line, The New Yorker vs. the The New Yorker, evening vs. afternoon, how to pronounce hammock, a wild and woolly animal quiz, “talking cheese” in German, and an Iranian-American playwright on the challenges of learning another language.
    Read full show notes, hear hundreds of free episodes, send your thoughts and questions, and learn more on the A Way with Words website: https://waywordradio.org/contact. Be a part of the show: call 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the United States and Canada; worldwide, call or text/SMS +1 (619) 800-4443. Email words@waywordradio.org. Twitter @wayword. Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation.
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    • 53 min
    Love Bites (Rebroadcast) - 2 May 2022

    Love Bites (Rebroadcast) - 2 May 2022

    The word filibuster has a long and colorful history, going back to the days when pirates roamed the high seas. Today it refers to hijacking a piece of legislation. Plus, the language of yoga teachers: When doing a guided meditation, you may hear your instructor speaking in a kind of continuous present, with phrases like Sitting comfortably and Breathing deeply instead of the simple imperatives to Sit comfortably and Breathe deeply. These are participles with a purpose, and linguists have a term for it: the politeness progressive. Finally, why CAN'T you have your cake and eat it, too? Also: Book it!, the language of falconry, acronames, how to pronounce brooch,0, at loggerheads, a brain-teasing game for science fans and another one for gardeners, and the many meanings of hickey. And hey, Don't go visiting with one arm as long as the other!
    Read full show notes, hear hundreds of free episodes, send your thoughts and questions, and learn more on the A Way with Words website: https://waywordradio.org/contact. Be a part of the show: call 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the United States and Canada; worldwide, call or text/SMS +1 (619) 800-4443. Email words@waywordradio.org. Twitter @wayword. Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation.
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    • 53 min
    Pushing the Envelope - 25 April 2022

    Pushing the Envelope - 25 April 2022

    Sure, there's winter, spring, summer, and fall. But the seasons in between have even more poetic names. In Alaska, greenup describes a sudden, dramatic burst of green after a long, dark winter. And there are many, many terms for a cold snap that follows the first taste of spring: blackberry winter, redbud winter, onion snow, and whippoorwill storm, to name a few. Plus, the family that plays trivia games at home may end up cheering for their teen in high-school competitions. Also, playful prayers at the dinner table: Amen, Brother Ben! Pass the butter, let's begin! All that, plus retten up, push the envelope, with bells on, self-deprecating vs. self-depreciating, taffy pockets, pigeon pair, the end of pea time, a puzzle about pairs of words. Here we go, laughing and scratching! 
    Read full show notes, hear hundreds of free episodes, send your thoughts and questions, and learn more on the A Way with Words website: https://waywordradio.org/contact. Be a part of the show: call 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the United States and Canada; worldwide, call or text/SMS +1 (619) 800-4443. Email words@waywordradio.org. Twitter @wayword. Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation.
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    • 53 min
    Lasagna Hog (Rebroadcast) - 18 April 2022

    Lasagna Hog (Rebroadcast) - 18 April 2022

    Understanding the varieties of conversational styles can mean the difference between feeling you're understood and being insulted. "High involvement" speakers interrupt or talk along with someone else to signal their enthusiasm, while "high considerateness" speakers tend more toward thoughtful pauses and polite turn-taking. Adjusting your speaking style accordingly may improve not only your communication, but also your relationships. Plus, when you read a text message from someone, does it seem weird if they use ellipses? And: a delightful new documentary about the World Palindrome Championships will leave you with just one palindromic thought: Wow! Also, boo-boo and boo-hoo, prune and plum, grass widow and widows weeds, a rig and a half, barefoot tea, funny names for birds, and a puzzle for movie lovers. 
    Read full show notes, hear hundreds of free episodes, send your thoughts and questions, and learn more on the A Way with Words website: https://waywordradio.org/contact. Be a part of the show: call 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the United States and Canada; worldwide, call or text/SMS +1 (619) 800-4443. Email words@waywordradio.org. Twitter @wayword. Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation.
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    • 53 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
1.8K Ratings

1.8K Ratings

Rex Stout ,

Just Great Fun

Don’t want to miss a single episode. Always thought-provoking ideas about our language.

TSL Sr ,

Best podcast for a road trip

We listen to this every time we take a trip. It is so interesting, before we know it we are at our destination - smarter than when we started.

bws7 ,

My favorite word junkies

This podcast is more fun and interesting than it might sound. Not only are they stunningly knowledgeable,they have elegant, almost old-fashioned, manners. No word or phrase is too trivial for them to obsess over. As a fellow word junkie I appreciate the thrill of tracking down every obscure reference. I appreciate the idea of spending hours, and perhaps a quick trip to the next county, to squeeze every nuance from a phrase that hasn’t been used for 150 years. I love it

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