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

Hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett. Produced by Stefanie Levine.

Light-hearted conversation with callers from all over about new words, old sayings, slang, family expressions, language change and varieties, as well as word histories, linguistics, regional dialects, word games, grammar, books, literature, writing, and more. Be a part of the show with author/journalist Martha Barnette and linguist/lexicographer Grant Barrett. Share your language thoughts, questions, and stories: https://waywordradio.org/contact or words@waywordradio.org. In the US 🇺🇸 and Canada 🇨🇦, call 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free 24/7. In the UK 🇬🇧, 020 3286 5677. In México 🇲🇽, 55 8421 8567.  Send a voice note or question via WhatsApp, 16198004443. From everywhere, call or text +1 (619) 800-4443. Past episodes, show notes, topic search, and more: https://waywordradio.org. A Way with Words is listener-supported! https://waywordradio.org/donate ❤️  Want to listen without ads? Subscribe here! https://awww.supportingcast.fm read less

Our Editor's Take

A Way with Words - language, linguistics, and callers from all over celebrates the magic of language in all its forms. Podcast listeners hear the histories and meanings of their favorite sayings. They may also discover new favorites. Hosts Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett discuss speech patterns, vocabulary, and fun books. Every episode explores the ways language helps people communicate with creativity and joy.

Martha and Grant are ardent language lovers. Before working as a broadcaster, Martha was a reporter for The Washington Post. She's also the author of several etymology books. Martha became a cohost of A Way with Words in 2004. Grant is a lexicographer, radio host, linguist, and public speaker. His specialty is new words and slang. Grant has worked on dictionaries for Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press. In his spare time, he reads as many books as he can.

A Way with Words started as a public radio show in 1998. It delights in the strange, unusual, and hilarious ways humans communicate. Grant and Martha keep conversations fun, engaging, and modern. Each episode begins with their banter over a phrase or word, like "commando" or "latibulate." The latter means to "hide oneself in a corner." "It's me," Martha quips.

The bulk of every episode consists of Martha and Grant's conversation with callers. In one, a caller tells the two that her family would address her as a "nitnoy." The affectionate nickname comes from Thailand and translates to "little bit." The caller learns the fascinating etymology of the word. Did her father hear it during the Vietnam War? They speculate as much. The hosts also discuss the English term "bookworm." It translates to "book moth" or "book mouse" elsewhere. France uses the phrase "buveur d'encre," or "ink drinker," for people who are voracious readers.

The New Yorker hails Grant and Martha as "the perfect duo." A Way with Words - language, linguistics, and callers from all over is replete with laughter and compelling knowledge. Listeners can hear new episodes on Fridays and also call in with queries, phrases, words, or books.

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Society & CultureSociety & Culture


Tiger Tail (Rebroadcast) - 10 June 2024
Jun 10 2024
Tiger Tail (Rebroadcast) - 10 June 2024
You may have a favorite word in English, but what about your favorite in another language? The Spanish term ojalá 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 an animal makes. English speakers imitate a rooster with cock-a-doodle-doo, but in Siberia, children learn to say something that sounds like “koh-kock-a-REE!” The sounds we attribute to other creatures vary from language to language, even if they’re all the same to the animals. Plus, a brain teaser about subtracting letters, saditty, bundu, potpie, the famous bubbler, words misheard, the plural of squash, a poem about slowing down and paying attention, and a whole lot more. 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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices