A Way with Words: language, linguistics, and callers from all over-logo

A Way with Words: language, linguistics, and callers from all over

Podcasts

A Way with Words is a fun and funny radio show and podcast about language. Co-hosts Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett talk with callers from around the world about linguistics, slang, new words, jokes, riddles, word games, grammar, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, books, literature, folklore, and speaking and writing well. Email your language questions for the show to words@waywordradio.org. Or call with your questions toll-free *any* time in the U.S. and Canada at (877) 929-9673. From anywhere in the world: +1 (619) 800-4443. Hear all past shows for free: http://waywordradio.org/. Also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/wayword.

A Way with Words is a fun and funny radio show and podcast about language. Co-hosts Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett talk with callers from around the world about linguistics, slang, new words, jokes, riddles, word games, grammar, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, books, literature, folklore, and speaking and writing well. Email your language questions for the show to words@waywordradio.org. Or call with your questions toll-free *any* time in the U.S. and Canada at (877) 929-9673. From anywhere in the world: +1 (619) 800-4443. Hear all past shows for free: http://waywordradio.org/. Also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/wayword.

Location:

United States

Genres:

Podcasts

Description:

A Way with Words is a fun and funny radio show and podcast about language. Co-hosts Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett talk with callers from around the world about linguistics, slang, new words, jokes, riddles, word games, grammar, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, books, literature, folklore, and speaking and writing well. Email your language questions for the show to words@waywordradio.org. Or call with your questions toll-free *any* time in the U.S. and Canada at (877) 929-9673. From anywhere in the world: +1 (619) 800-4443. Hear all past shows for free: http://waywordradio.org/. Also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/wayword.

Language:

English


Episodes

When Pigs Fly - 14 June 2021

6/14/2021
Don't move my cheese! It's a phrase middle managers use to talk about adapting to change in the workplace. It comes from a popular 1990s business book featuring a fable about mice and tiny humans inside a maze and how they respond when their chewy food source is relocated. Plus, the origin story of the name William, and why it's I in Spanish. And a 5-year-old poses a question that puzzles many grownups, too: Why is the letter Q so often followed by a U? All that, and adynaton, an assonant...

Duration:00:51:34

Tiger Tail (Rebroadcast) - 7 June 2021

6/7/2021
You may have a favorite word in English, but what about your favorite in another language? The Spanish term ojala is especially handy for expressing hopefulness and derives from Arabic for "God willing." In Trinidad, if you want to ask friends to hang out with you, invite them to go liming. Nobody's sure about this word's origin, although it may indeed have to do with the tart green fruit. And: a story about a traveler who finds that children in Siberia use different words to say the sound...

Duration:00:51:42

Cool Beans - 31 May 2021

5/31/2021
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...

Duration:00:51:34

Clever Clogs (Rebroadcast) - 24 May 2021

5/24/2021
Ribbon fall. Gallery forest. You won't find terms like these in most dictionaries, but they and hundreds like them are discussed by famous writers in the book Home Ground: A Guide to the American Landscape. The book is an intriguing collection of specialized vocabulary that invites us to look more closely at the natural world -- and delight in its language. Also, how and why the Southern drawl developed. Plus, the phrase It's a thing. This expression may seem new, but It's a thing has been a...

Duration:00:51:42

Love Bites - 17 May 2021

5/17/2021
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...

Duration:00:51:34

Little Shavers (Rebroadcast) - 10 May 2021

5/10/2021
The word "hipster" might seem recent, but it actually originated in the 1930s, and referred to jazz aficionados who were in the know about the best nightclubs and cool music. Speaking of music, a professional musician reports that it's sometimes hard for him to relax and enjoy the performance of others because he's tempted overanalyze it. Do language experts have the same problem when they listen to everyday conversation or read for pleasure? They sure do! The remedy? Reading something you...

Duration:00:51:45

Lasagna Hog - 3 May 2021

5/3/2021
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...

Duration:00:51:36

Bug in Your Ear (Rebroadcast) - 26 April 2021

4/26/2021
Is there something inherent in English that makes it the linguistic equivalent of the Borg, dominating and consuming other languages in its path? No, Not at all. The answer lies with politics and conquest rather than language itself. Plus: a brand-new baby may be lovingly placed in a giraffe and spend time in the Panda room, but where is that? That's jargon you might hear in a hospital's neonatal intensive care unit --- both for ease of communication among medical staff and to soothe...

Duration:00:51:45

Kiss the Cow - 19 April 2021

4/19/2021
An anadrome is a word that forms a whole new word when you spell it backwards. For example, the word "stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts." Some people's first names are actually anadromes. There's the girl named Noel in honor of her father Leon, and the woman named Edna who adopted the name Ande. Speaking of names, know anybody whose occupation fits their name? Maybe a college administrator named Dean, or a breadmaker named Baker? Well, there's a name for that, too. It's called...

Duration:00:51:35

The Black Dog (Rebroadcast) - 12 April 2021

4/12/2021
Books were rare treasures in the Middle Ages, painstakingly copied out by hand. So how to protect them from theft? Scribes sometimes added a curse to the first page of those books that was supposed to keep thieves away -- and some were as vicious as they were creative! Also: if you spot a typo in a published book, should you contact the publisher? Maybe, but your first step is to make sure you're right! Finally, learning another language may make you question whether you're speaking your own...

Duration:00:52:00

No Cap, No Lie - 5 April 2021

4/5/2021
We take our voices for granted, but it's truly miraculous that we communicate complex thoughts simply by moving our mouths while exhaling. A fascinating new book reveals the science, history, and linguistics involved in human speech. And although you might associate the term paraphernalia with drug use, the word goes all the way back to ancient Greece and the property of a new bride. Plus: you're jogging through the woods and come up behind someone. What do you say to keep from startling...

Duration:00:51:34

Beside Myself (Rebroadcast) - 29 March 2021

3/29/2021
The new Downton Abbey movie is a luscious treat for fans of the public-television period piece, but how accurate is the script when it comes to the vocabulary of the early 20th century? It may be jarring to hear the word swag, but it was already at least 100 years old. And no, it's not an acronym. Also, a historian of science sets out to write a book to celebrate semicolons -- and ends up transforming her views about language. Plus, one teacher's creative solution to teen profanity profanity...

Duration:00:51:45

Lead on, Macduff! (#1565)

3/22/2021
For rock climbers, skiers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, the word "send" has a whole new meaning. You might cheer on a fellow snowboarder with "Send it, bro!" -- and being "sendy" is a really great thing. Plus: a nostalgic trip to Willa Cather's' Nebraska home inspires a reading from one of her classic books about life on the American prairie. And what do they call a sudden, heavy rain where you live? A gulley washer? A frog-strangler? Or maybe even a bridge-lifter? All that, and the...

Duration:00:51:34

Skookum (Rebroadcast) - 15 March 2021

3/15/2021
So you've long dreamed of writing fiction, but don't know where to begin? There are lots of ways to get started -- creative writing classes, local writing groups, and books with prompts to get you going. The key is to get started, and then stick with it. And: which part of the body do surgeons call "the goose"? Hint: you don't want a bite of chicken caught in your goose. Finally, the nautical origins of the phrase "three sheets to the wind." This term for "very drunk" originally referred to...

Duration:00:51:39

Tribble Trouble - 8 March 2021

3/7/2021
In Cockney rhyming slang, apples and pears is a synonym for "stairs," and dustbin lids means kids. Plus, sniglets are clever coinages for things we don't already have words for. Any guesses what incogsneeto means? It's the act of trying to hide your sneeze while wearing a face mask. Also, how the vocabulary of science fiction influences our everyday conversation, from the tribble on your hat to vaccine development at warp speed! Plus unkempt vs. unkept, erase vs. delete, tribbles vs....

Duration:00:51:40

Life of Riley (Rebroadcast) - 1 March 2021

3/1/2021
Unwrap the name of a candy bar, and you just might find a story inside. For instance, one chewy treat found in many a checkout lane is named after a family's beloved horse. And: 50 years ago in the United States, some Latino elementary students were made to adopt English versions of their own names and forbidden to speak Spanish. The idea was to help them assimilate, but that practice came with a price. Plus, who is Riley, and why is his or her life a luxurious one? Also: a brain-busting...

Duration:00:50:59

Ring-Tailed Tooter - 22 February 2021

2/22/2021
National Book Award winner Barry Lopez had wise advice for young writers. First, read widely and follow your curiosity. Second, travel or learn a foreign language. And third, find out what you truly believe, because if you're not writing from your beliefs, then you're just passing along information. And: if someone says they're going to plant flags at a gravesite, they may not mean what you think. That's because the word flag is also the name for a certain flower. Plus, if helicopter parents...

Duration:00:52:23

Off the Turnip Truck (Rebroadcast) - 15 February 2021

2/15/2021
It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when people disagreed over the best word to use when answering the phone. Alexander Graham Bell suggested answering with Ahoy! but Thomas Edison was partial to Hello. A fascinating new book about internet language says this disagreement is worth remembering when we talk about how greetings are evolving today -- both online and off. Plus, a Los Angeles teacher asks: What are the rules for teen profanity in the classroom? Finally, why some people...

Duration:00:52:52

What the Blazes? - 8 February 2021

2/8/2021
What kind of book do people ask for most often in prison? Romance Novels? No. The Bible? No. The most requested books by far are . . . dictionaries! A number of volunteer organizations gather and distribute used dictionaries to help inmates with reading, writing, and schoolwork. Plus: For some low-tech family fun, how about egg-tapping? Traditionally played after an Easter egg hunt, the game involves smacking a hard-boiled egg against an opponent's The person who ends up with an uncracked...

Duration:00:52:23

Loaded for Bear (Rebroadcast) - 2 February 2021

2/1/2021
One way to make your new business look trendy is to use two nouns separated by an ampersand, like Peach & Creature . . . or Rainstorm & Egg. A tongue-in-cheek website will generate names like that for you. And: in the traditions of several African countries, names for babies are often inspired by conditions at the time of their birth, like a period of grief or wedding festivities, or the baby's position when leaving the womb. In Zambia, for example, many people go by the name Bornface,...

Duration:00:52:52