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

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

Hair On Your Tongue (Rebroadcast) - 7 September 2020

9/7/2020
If you speak both German and Spanish, you may find yourself reaching for a German word instead of a Spanish one, and vice versa. This puzzling experience is so common among polyglots that linguists have a name for it. Also, the best writers create luscious, long sentences using the same principles that make for a musician's melodious phrasing or a tightrope walker's measured steps. Finally, want to say something is wild and crazy in Norwegian? You can use a slang phrase that translates as...

Duration:00:51:41

Play It By Ear - 31 August 2020

8/31/2020
How does social context shape our perception of language? When hiking the Appalachian Trail, a young woman from Wyoming found that fellow hikers assumed she was from another country, not only because of how she spoke, but also how she looked. Sometimes our perception of other people's accents have more to do with social context than with any real dialect features. And: did you ever wonder if there was a punctuation mark to indicate sarcasm? You're not alone! There are lots of creative...

Duration:00:51:28

Train of Thought (Rebroadcast) - 24 August 2020

8/24/2020
Chances are you recognize the expressions Judgment Day and the root of all evil as phrases from the Bible. There are many others, though, some of which may surprise you: the powers that be and bottomless pit first appeared in scripture. Plus, there's a term for when the language of a minority is adopted by the majority. When, for example, expressions from drag culture and hip-hop go mainstream, they're said to have covert prestige. And the language of proxemics: how architects design spaces...

Duration:00:52:07

Moon Palace - 17 August 2020

8/17/2020
What happens in a classroom of refugee and immigrant youngsters learning English? Their fresh approach to language can result in remarkable poetry -- some of which is collected in the anthology England: Poems from a School. Also, new language among healthcare professionals: the term cohorting describes the act of grouping patients with COVID-19 in designated facilities. But what's the word for reintegrating them into the general patient population after treatment. Decohorting, maybe?...

Duration:00:51:57

Space Cadet (Rebroadcast) - 10 August 2020

8/10/2020
We have books that should be on every language lover's wish list, plus a couple of recommendations for history buffs. Plus: how did the word boondoggle come to denote a wasteful project? The answer involves the Boy Scouts, a baby, a craft project, and a city council meeting. Plus, wordplay with palindromes. Instead of reversing just individual letters, some palindromes reverse entire words! Like this one: You can cage a swallow, but you can't swallow a cage, can you? Also, squeaky clean,...

Duration:00:52:14

Howling Fantods (Rebroadcast) - 3 August 2020

8/3/2020
Are there words and phrases that you misunderstood for an embarrassingly long time? Maybe you thought that money laundering literally meant washing drug-laced dollar bills, or that AM radio stations only broadcast in the morning? A Twitter thread prompts those and other funny confessions. And: a moving new memoir by Kansas writer Sarah Smarsh touches on the connection between vocabulary and class. Plus, the inventive language of writer David Foster Wallace: Even if you've never heard the...

Duration:00:51:36

Cherry Bombs (#1551)

7/27/2020
An ornithologist says there's a growing movement to change the name of a pink-footed bird currently called the flesh-footed shearwater. The movement reflects a growing understanding that using flesh-colored for "pink" fails to acknowledge the full range of human skin color. Plus, is hooligan an anti-Irish slur? Some people might perceive it that way, but originally the word itself simply referred to the name of a particular gang in London. Finally, book recommendations to keep our minds and...

Duration:00:51:30

Bottled Sunshine (Rebroadcast) - 20 July 2020

7/20/2020
If you catch your blue jeans on a nail, you may find yourself with a winklehawk. This term was adapted into English from Dutch, and means "an L-shaped tear in a piece of fabric." And: What's your relationship with the books on your shelves? Do the ones you haven't read yet make you feel guilty -- or inspired? Finally, we're all used to fairy tales that start with the words "Once upon a time." Not so with Korean folktales, which sometimes begin with the beguiling phrase "In the old days, when...

Duration:00:51:36

Queen Bee - 13 July 2020

7/13/2020
An artist asks strangers to write haiku about the pandemic, and gets back poetic, poignant glimpses of life under lockdown. Plus, the new book Queenspotting features the colorful language of beekeeping! Bees tell each other about a good source of nectar by doing a waggle dance, and when a queen bee is ready to mate, she flies around followed by a drone comet. Also, do you refer to that savory red stuff dripped over your pasta as sauce? Or gravy? In some circles, that's a hotly debated topic!...

Duration:00:51:40

Cootie Shot (Rebroadcast) - 6 July 2020

7/6/2020
Perfect sentences and slang that tickles your mind. A new book of writing advice says that a good sentence "imposes a logic on the world's weirdness" and pares away options for meaning, word by word. Plus, your musician friend may refer to his guitar as an ax, but this slang term was applied to other musical instruments before it was ever used for guitars. And: we need a word for that puzzling moment when you're standing there wondering which recyclables are supposed to go in which bin....

Duration:00:51:29

Navel Gazing - 29 June 2020

6/29/2020
In 1971, when a new public library opened in Troy, Michigan, famous authors and artists were invited to write letters to the city's youngest readers, extolling the many benefits of libraries. One of the loveliest was from E.B. White, author of Charlotte's Web. Plus, you may think navel-gazing is a relatively new idea -- but it goes back at least to the 14th century, when meditating monks really did look like they were studying their bellies! Also, why don't actors in movies say goodbye at...

Duration:00:51:24

Ding Ding Man (Rebroadcast) - 22 June 2020

6/22/2020
In 1803, a shy British pharmacist wrote a pamphlet that made him a reluctant celebrity. The reason? He proposed a revolutionary new system for classifying clouds--with Latin names we still use today, like cumulus, cirrus, and stratus. Also: when reading aloud to children, what's the best way to present a dialect that's different from your own? Finally, recycling our trash demands close attention. Professionals in the recycling business say it's important to be sure that an item is truly...

Duration:00:50:59

Take Tea for the Fever (Rebroadcast) - 15 June 2020

6/15/2020
Silence comes in lots of different forms. In fact, says writer Paul Goodman, there are several kinds: There's the noisy silence of "resentment and self-recrimination," and the helpful, participatory silence of actively listening to someone speak. Plus, the strange story behind the English words "grotesque" and "antic": both involve bizarre paintings found in ancient Roman ruins. Finally, the whirring sound of a Betsy bug and a moth's dusty wings give rise to picturesque English words and...

Duration:00:50:59

Yak Shaving - 8 June 2020

6/8/2020
There was a time when William Shakespeare was just another little 7-year-old in school. Classes in his day were demanding -- and all in Latin. A new book argues that this rigorous curriculum actually nurtured the creativity that later flourished in Shakespeare's writing. Don't know Latin? You can still adapt those approaches to stretch and hone your own mind. Plus, why do we refer to an unpredictable person as a loose cannon? The answer lies in the terrifying potential of a large weapon...

Duration:00:50:59