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

Author: Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, produced by Stefanie Levine

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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.
119 Episodes
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Where would you find a sports commentator talking about high cheese and ducks on a pond? Here's a hint: both terms are part of what make the language of America’s pastime so colorful. And: a government official in New Zealand proposes a new, more respectful term for someone with autism. Plus, the roots of that beloved Jamaican export, reggae music. Also, hang a snowman, goat rodeo, jimson weed, work-brickle vs. work-brittle, OK vs. okay, and banana bag. Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/  Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate  Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!  https://waywordradio.org/contact  words@waywordradio.org  Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada  Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673  Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.
Gerrymandering is the practice of redistricting to tip the political scales. Originally, though, this strategy was called "GARY-mandering" with a hard "g." But why? And: Mark Twain and Helen Keller had a devoted friendship. When he heard accusations that she'd plagiarized a story, Twain wrote Keller a fond letter assuring her that there's nothing new under the sun. Finally, a well-crafted message header makes email more efficient. A subject line that contains just the word "Question" is almost as useless as no subject line at all. Plus, flop sweat, vintage clothing, the solfege system, on line vs. in line, groaking, the Hawaiian fish dish called poke, and around the gool. Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/  Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate  Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!  https://waywordradio.org/contact  words@waywordradio.org  Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada  Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673  Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.
The only time you'll ever see the sun's outer atmosphere is during a full solar eclipse, when sun itself is completely covered. That hazy ring is called the corona, from the Latin word for "crown" -- just like the little crown on a bottle of Corona beer. Plus, the phrase "throw the baby out with the bathwater" contains a vivid image of accidentally tossing something -- and so does the phrase "to fly off the handle." But where did we get the expression "to hell in a handbasket"? The origin of this phrase is murky, although it may have to do with the fact that handbaskets are easily carried. Also: Biscuit Belt vs. Pine Belt, how to pronounce via, streely, pizza, tuckered out, FOOSH, and Sorry, Charlie! Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/  Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate  Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!  https://waywordradio.org/contact  words@waywordradio.org  Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada  Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673  Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.
"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. Much later, the same idea inspired a rare English word that means "reciprocal love between children and parents." All that, plus a brain-busting quiz about scrambled words, Mrs. Astor's pet horse, dissimilation when pronouncing the word forward, tap 'er light, allopreening, raise the window down, and why we call a zipper a fly. Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/  Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate  Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!  https://waywordradio.org/contact  words@waywordradio.org  Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada  Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673  Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.
This week it’s butterflies, belly flowers, plot bunnies, foxes, and cuckoos. Also, writing advice from Mark Twain and a wonderful bit of prose from Sara Pennypacker's book Pax. And are there word origins? Well, does a duck swim? We'll hear the stories of polka, smarmy, bully pulpit, and the exes and ohs we use to show our affection. Plus! Sarcastic interrogatives, the echo questions we give as answers to other people's no-duh queries. Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/  Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate  Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!  https://waywordradio.org/contact  words@waywordradio.org  Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada  Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673  Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.
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 as a whistle, high muckety-muck, tip us your daddle, and a wet bird never flies at night. Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/  Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate  Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!  https://waywordradio.org/contact  words@waywordradio.org  Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada  Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673  Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.
Pranks, cranks, and chips. As a kid, you may have played that game where you phone someone to say, "Is your refrigerator running? Then you better go catch it!" What's the term for that kind of practical joke? Is it a crank call or a prank call? There's a big difference. Also, if someone has a chip on his shoulder, he's spoiling for a fight -- but what kind of chip are we talking about? Potato? Poker? Hint: the phrase arose at a time when there were many more wooden structures around. Finally, a conversation with an expert on polar bears leads to a discussion of history and folklore around the world. Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/  Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate  Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!  https://waywordradio.org/contact  words@waywordradio.org  Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada  Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673  Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.
Gift Horse - 1 July 2019

Gift Horse - 1 July 2019

2019-07-0100:51:014

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 much more commonplace in everyday life. For example, the best place to get information about a horse you might buy isn't from the owner -- it's straight from the horse's mouth. Plus, shoofly pie, bring you down a buttonhole lower, didaskaleinophobia, pangrams by middle schoolers, Albany beef, starting a sentence with Say, and a brain teaser inspired by a New Jersey grandma. Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/  Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate  Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!  https://waywordradio.org/contact  words@waywordradio.org  Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada  Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673  Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.
What's the best way for someone busy to learn lots of new words quickly for a test like the GRE? Looking up their origins can help. Or record yourself reading the words and definitions and play them back while you're doing other chores. Plus, book recommendations for youngsters. Finally, military slang, and the one-word prank that sends Army recruits running--or at least the ones who are in on the joke! Also: fanboys, technophyte, galoot, landsickness, to have one's habits on, Zonk!, and a sciurine eulogy. Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/  Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate  Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!  https://waywordradio.org/contact  words@waywordradio.org  Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada  Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673  Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.
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 radish, landed up vs. ended up, who struck John, English on a ball, hoop it up, affirming the Appalachian dialect, and Sunday driver. Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/  Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate  Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!  https://waywordradio.org/contact  words@waywordradio.org  Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada  Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673  Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.
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Comments (5)

Mary Gatlin Bell

Never heard kimble. In Minneapolis in the '60s-'70s, the walk your caller describe was called " the "pimp limp". with that in mind I was taken aback to see Obama doing a modified version, wonder if a political strategist suggested it as a way to seem "blacker", or if he picked it up in his community organizing days. Back in the day no one would decide doing the pimp limp would enhance their image.

Aug 19th
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Joanna Francis

Mary Gatlin Bell yes, you are right🤔🤔

Aug 19th
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Jim123bcb HD

I love the show, I love learning more about language in general <3

Jul 8th
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Cat

I really love this show

Jun 13th
Reply

East End Hitchhiker

Great show love it!

May 8th
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