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

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

PRX

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:

San Diego, CA

Networks:

PRX

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.

Twitter:

@wayword

Language:

English

Contact:

Wayword, Inc. P.O. Box 632721 San Diego, CA 92163 1 (877) 929-9673


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Episodes

Mudlarking - 25 January 2021

1/25/2021
Twice a day the River Thames recedes, revealing a muddy shoreline. Hobbyists known as mudlarks stroll the surface searching for objects that have found their way into the river over the centuries -- everything from ancient Roman jewelry to modern wedding rings. A new book about mudlarking describes the irresistible appeal of searching for treasures and the stories behind them. And: why do performers whisper the phrase Toi, toi, toi to wish each other well backstage before a show? Finally,...

Duration:00:52:23

Mrs. Astor's Horse (Rebroadcast) - 18 January 2021

1/18/2021
"What has a head like a cat, feet like a cat, a tail like a cat, but isn't a cat?" Answer: a kitten! A 1948 children's joke book has lots of these to share with kids. Plus: an easy explanation for the difference between immigrate with an i, and emigrate with an e. And ....a story about storks. The ancient Greeks revered these birds for the way they cared for each other. They even had a legal requirement called the Stork Law, which mandated that Greek adults look after their elderly parents....

Duration:00:52:51

Snaggletooth

1/11/2021
Many of us struggled with the Old English poem "Beowulf" in high school. But what if you could actually hear "Beowulf" in the English of today? There's a new translation by Maria Dahvana Headley that uses contemporary language and even internet slang to create a fresh take on this centuries-old poem -- right down to addressing the reader as Bro! Also, what's a word for feeling desperately lonely, but also comfortable in your solitude? And: the story of the word nickname. It comes from words...

Duration:00:52:52

At First Blush (Rebroadcast) - 4 January 2021

1/4/2021
Book recommendations and the art of apology. Martha and Grant share some good reads, including an opinionated romp through English grammar, a Spanish-language adventure novel, an account of 19th-century dictionary wars, and a gorgeously illustrated book of letters to young readers. Plus, what's the best language for conveying a heartfelt apology? Ideally, an apology won't be the end of a conversation. Rather, it will be the beginning of one. Plus, a brain-busting word quiz, snow job, clean...

Duration:00:52:23

Gift Horse (Rebroadcast) - 28 December 2020

12/28/2020
The edge of the Grand Canyon. A remote mountaintop, or a medieval cathedral. Some places are so mystical you feel like you're close to another dimension of space and time. There's a term for such locales: thin places. And: did you ever go tick-tacking a few nights before Halloween? Tic-tacking refers to pranks like tapping ominously on windows without being caught, or tossing corn kernels all over a front porch. Also, horses run throughout our language, a relic of when these animals were...

Duration:00:52:53

Like a Boiled Owl - 21 December 2020

12/21/2020
What's it like to hike the Pacific Crest Trail all the way from Mexico to Canada? You'll end up with sore muscles and blisters, and great stories to tell. Along the way, you'll also pick up some slang, like NoBo, SoBo, Yo-yo . . . and Hike Naked Day, an annual event that's, well, pretty much what it sounds like. Plus, which came first, the color orange or the name of the pulpy fruit? And if you have a pain in the pinny, what part of your body hurts? Hint: pass the Pepto-Bismol! Also, a...

Duration:00:52:23

Had the Radish (Rebroadcast) - 14 December 2020

12/14/2020
This week on A Way with Words: Your first name is very personal, but what if you don't like it? For some people, changing their name works out great, but for others, it may create more problems than it solves. And: at least three towns in the U.S. were christened with names formed by spelling a word backwards. There's a name for such names: they're called ananyms. Plus, the Iowa town with a curious name: Welcome to the town of What Cheer! And: a brain game involving kangaroo words, had the...

Duration:00:52:52

Your Two Cents - 7 December 2020

12/7/2020
Astronauts returning from space say they experience what's called the overview effect, a new understanding of the fragility of our planet and our need to reflect on what humans all share as a species. A book about the end of the universe offers a similar change in perspective -- along with some fascinating language. Plus, a recipe for a delicious drink: one part lemonade, one part sweet tea. A famous golfer loved it. And why do we say That's my two cents after offering an opinion? Would it...

Duration:00:51:28

Abso Bloomin Lutely (Rebroadcast) - 30 November 2020

11/30/2020
The autocomplete function on your phone comes in handy, of course. But is it changing the way we write and how linguists study language? Also, suppose you could invite any two authors, living or dead, to dinner. Who's on your guest list and why? Plus, anchors aweigh! The slang of sailors includes the kind of BOSS you'd better dodge, a barn you sail into, and the difference between the Baja Ha-Ha and the Baja Bash. All that, and a brain game about body parts, conked out and zonked out,...

Duration:00:51:24

Niblings and Nieflings (Rebroadcast) - 23 November 2020

11/23/2020
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. And: Anyone for an alphabet game? A pangram is a sentence that uses EVERY letter of the alphabet at least once. There's the one about the quick, brown fox, of course. But there's a whole world of others, including pangrams about Brexit, emoji, and a pop singer behaving, well...

Duration:00:51:31

Sock it to Me - 16 November 2020

11/16/2020
In the 15th century, the word respair meant "to have hope again." Although this word fell out of use, it's among dozens collected in a new book of soothing vocabulary for troubled times. Plus, baseball slang: If a batter doesn't pour the pine," an outfielder may snag a can of corn, or "an easily caught fly ball." And the 1960s TV show "Laugh-In" spawned lots of catchphrases, such as Sock it to me, The devil made me do it, and You bet your sweet bippy. Don't know them? Well, Look that up in...

Duration:00:51:23

Kite in a Phonebooth (Rebroadcast) - 9 November 2020

11/9/2020
Stunt performers in movies have their own jargon for talking about their dangerous work. They refer to a stunt, for example, as a gag. Across the country in Brooklyn, the slang term brick means "cold," and dumb brick means "really cold." Plus: the East and Central African tradition that distinguishes between ancestors who remain alive in living memory, and all the rest who have receded into the vast ocean of history. In this sense, all of us are moving toward the past, not away from it....

Duration:00:51:30

Strawberry Moon (Rebroadcast) - 2 November 2020

11/2/2020
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 you read old handwritten letters and other documents. Plus: finding your way to a more nuanced understanding of language; the more you know about linguistic diversity, the more you embrace those differences rather than criticize them. Finally, a brain game using translations of...

Duration:00:51:28

Good Vibrations - 26 October 2020

10/26/2020
Asthenosphere, a geologist's term for the molten layer beneath the earth's crust, sparks a journey that stretches all the way from ancient Greece to the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Plus: What the heck is a dogberg? It's when a dog runs into you and knocks you over. This bit of slang was inspired by a professional wrestler who finished off his opponents in a similar fashion. Finally, if you're vibing with someone, you're getting along just great. The idea of vibing goes way back in history,...

Duration:00:51:26

Spill The Tea (Rebroadcast) - 19 October 2020

10/19/2020
If someone urges you to spill the tea, they probably don't want you tipping over a hot beverage. Originally, the tea here was the letter T, as in truth. To spill the T means to pass along truthful information. Plus, some delicious Italian idioms involving food. The Italian phrase that literally translates Eat the soup or jump out the window! means Take it or leave it, and a phrase that translates as We don't fry with water around here! means We don't do things halfway! Also: why carbonated...

Duration:00:51:36

Mystery Drawer - 12 October 2020

10/12/2020
Amid court-ordered busing in the 1970s, a middle-school teacher tried to distract her nervous students on the first day of class with this strange assignment: find a monarch caterpillar. The result? A memorable lesson in the miracle of metamorphosis. Plus, the story behind the slang expression Word!, meaning "Believe me!" The original version involved the idea that a person's word was their bond. And the expression Empty wagons make the most noise suggests that the person who boasts the...

Duration:00:51:35

Dirty Laundry (Rebroadcast) - 5 October 2020

10/5/2020
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 old term for "straw." And: What's the story behind the bedtime admonition "Sleep tight, and don't let the bedbugs bite"? Plus, when grownups are talking about sex or money, they may remind each other that "little pitchers have big ears." It's a reference to the ear-shaped handle on a jug, and the knack kids...

Duration:00:51:25

Keep Your Powder Dry (Rebroadcast) - 28 September 2020

9/28/2020
Jacuzzi and silhouette are eponyms – that is, they derive from the names of people. An Italian immigrant to California invented the bubbly hot tub called a jacuzzi. And the word silhouette commemorates a penny-pinching treasury secretary who lasted only a few months in office and was associated with these shadow portraits. Also, if the words strubbly, briggling, and wabashing aren’t already in your vocabulary, they should be – if only because they’re so much fun to say. Only one of them...

Duration:00:51:29

One Armed Paper Hanger (Rebroadcast) - 21 September 2020

9/21/2020
The emotional appeal of handwriting and the emotional reveal of animal phrases. Should children be taught cursive writing in school, or is their time better spent studying other things? A handwritten note and a typed one may use the very same words, but handwritten version may seem much more intimate. Plus, English is full of grisly expressions about animals, such as "there's more than one way to skin a cat" and "until the last dog is hung." The attitudes these sayings reflect aren't so...

Duration:00:51:54

Deviled Eggs - 14 September 2020

9/14/2020
Some TV commercials launch catchphrases that stick around long after the original ads. The exclamation Good stuff, Maynard! is still a compliment almost 40 years after it was used in a commercial for Malt-O-Meal hot cereal. And: what do you call that room where the whole family gathers? The family room? The den? The TV room? Names for that part of a home go in and out of fashion. Finally, if you're suffering from writer's block, try going easy on yourself for a while. Sometimes a writer's...

Duration:00:51:44