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.
109 Episodes
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Why do we call a frankfurter a "hot dog"? It seems an unsettling 19th-century rumor is to blame. Also, if someone quits something abruptly, why do we say they quit "cold turkey"? This term's roots may lie in the history of boxing. Plus, a transgender listener with nieces and nephews is looking for a gender-neutral term for the sibling of one's parent. Finally, the words "barber" and "doctor" don't necessarily mean what you think. They can both be weather words, referring to very different types of wind. 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 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, synonyms for synonym, ferhunsed, chronopaguous, nemophilist, sea-kindly, smithereens, and standing on my own two pins. 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 months of September, October, November, and December take their names from Latin words meaning "seven," "eight," "nine," and "ten." So why don't their names correspond to where they fall in the year? The answer lies in an earlier version of the Roman calendar. The sweltering period called the "dog days" takes its name from the movements of a certain star. A new book offers an insider's view of the world of dictionary editing. 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.
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 in watching for invaders arriving by sea. Plus, a dispute over how to pronounce the name of a savory avocado dip. Finally, one more place where people are starting sentences with the word "So"--during prayers at church. Also: elbow clerk, smitten, Tennyson's brook, fussbudget vs. fuss-bucket, clinomania, and 50k south of Woop Woop. 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.
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 ... badly. Plus sworping, agga forti, spelling out letters, the uncertain etymology of kazoo, larruping, the hairy eyeball, where the woodbine twineth, and a brain teaser based on characters that might have been in a Disney movie. 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.    
Restaurant jargon, military slang, and modern Greek turns of phrase. Some restaurants now advertise that they sell "clean" sandwiches. But that doesn't mean they're condiment-free or the lettuce got an extra rinse. In the food industry, the word "clean" is taking on a whole new meaning. Plus, a Marine veteran wonders about a phrase he heard often while serving in Vietnam: "give me a Huss," meaning "give me a hand." Finally, some surprising idioms used in Greece today. For example, what does a Greek person mean if he tells you "I ate a door"? 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.
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. Plus, the Indiana town that was named incorrectly because of a bureaucratic mixup. The town's name? Correct. Also, a brain game with words big and little, slushburger vs. sloppy joe, go fry ice, fracas, beat the band, sensational spelling, heavier than a dead minister, and telling porkies. 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.
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 become more specific. Plus, some people think that referring to a former spouse as an ex sounds harsh or disrespectful. So what DO you call someone you used to be involved with? Finally, the story behind the real McCoy. This term for something that's "genuine" has nothing to do with the famous feud. Also, hairy at the heels, Spanglish, nose out of joint, punctuating abbreviations, and gaywater. 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”: 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 their favorite phrases for fudging that number, like: "Oh, I'm 29, plus shipping and handling." Plus, since ancient times, people have hidden messages in clever ways. Nowadays, coded messages are sometimes concealed in pixels. Finally, uber-silly German jokes: Did you hear the one about the two skyscrapers knitting in the basement? It's silly, all right. Plus, the origin of hello, the creative class, all wool and a yard wide, get some kip, a handful of minutes, and jeep. 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.
Questions from young listeners and conversations about everything from shifting slang to a bizarre cooking technique. Kids ask about how to talk about finding information on the internet, how tartar sauce got its name, and if the expression high and dry describes something good or something bad. Yes, kids often know more than their parents! 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 (2)

Cat

I really love this show

Jun 13th
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East End Hitchhiker

Great show love it!

May 8th
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