A Way with Words

A Way with Words

Show Times

Timezone: PDT [UTC-7]
Sat:
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Sun:
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm*
* Encore Presentation

About the Show


“A Way with Words” is a weekly, hour-long, national, caller-based program about language. Author Martha Barnette and lexicographer Grant Barrett take calls about slang, grammar, linguistic heirlooms, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, and speaking and writing well. By looking at the world through the lens of language, “A Way with Words” offers a brand-new perspective on politics, pop culture, history, sports, music, science, literature, and foreign cultures. Funny, informative, and fast-paced, each hour-long episode includes a word puzzle and slang quiz. If you speak English — or if you’re trying to learn it — within a few minutes of listening to this show you’ll find something that pulls you in. Our listeners come from all walks of life: in more than a decade on the air, we’ve heard from rocket scientists to physicians, from spelling-bee champs to retirees, from Gen-X cartoonists to fishmongers. Well, at least one fishmonger, who wanted to know what -monger is doing in the name of his occupation. Beyond this broad audience that tunes in for general entertainment and information, “A Way with Words” has a growing and fiercely loyal core audience of self-described word lovers, including experienced and aspiring writers and editors; office workers and degreed professionals; learners of English as a first or supplementary language; linguistic dilettantes; word history buffs; students of all ages; teachers at all levels; lovers of wordplay; Scrabble players and crossword puzzlers; dictionary browsers; and late-blooming or late-life learners trying to catch up on what they missed or have forgotten of their formal education. The common thread is that these listeners keep tuning in week after week because “A Way with Words” addresses precisely the core values that devoted public-radio audiences share: a lively curiosity, an appreciation of thoughtful conversation that’s well-informed and stimulating, and a healthy sense of humor.

Ask your language questions: (877) 929-9673 or by email.

Posts
 
Playlists
 


In the military, if you’ve “lost the bubble,” then you can’t find your bearings. The term first referred to calibrating the position of aircraft and submarines. And the phrase “the coast is clear” may originate […]
How do actors bring Shakespeare’s lines to life so that modern audiences immediately understand the text? One way is to emphasize the names of people and places at certain points. That technique is called billboarding. […]
Hundreds of years ago, the word girl didn’t necessarily mean a female child. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the term “girl” could refer to a child of either sex. Only later did its meaning […]
This week on “A Way with Words”: The language we use to cover up our age, and covering up a secret message. Do you ever find yourself less-than-specific about your age? Listeners share some of […]
We asked for your thoughts about whether cursive writing should be taught in schools — and you replied with a resounding “Yes!” Here’s why: Cursive helps develop fine motor skills, improves mental focus, and lets […]
Choosing language that helps resolve interpersonal conflict. Sometimes a question is really just a veiled form of criticism. Understanding the difference between “ask culture” and “guess culture” can help you know how to respond. And […]
A wingnut is a handy, stabilizing piece of hardware. So why is it a pejorative term for those of a certain political persuasion? Also, is there something wrong with the phrase “committed suicide”? Some say […]
When you had sleepovers as a child, what did you call the makeshift beds you made on the floor? In some places, you call those bedclothes and blankets a pallet. This word comes from an […]
The words we choose can change attitudes–and change lives. A swing-dance instructor has switched to gender-neutral language when teaching couples. He insists that using words like “leader” and “follower” actually works better than using gendered […]