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A Way with Words

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A Way with Words is an upbeat and lively hour-long public radio show about language examined through history, culture, and family. Co-hosts Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett talk with callers from around the world about slang, grammar, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, and speaking and writing well. They settle disputes, play word quizzes, and discuss language news and controversies.

What it is: Martha and Grant are the teachers you wish you’d had. The show is upbeat, lively, conversational, fresh, contemporary. It’s a positive, information-based look at what is really happening with all aspects of modern language and communication, using anecdotes, culture, relationships, and families as starting points. There’s a lot of first-hand, primary research and professional language experience that informs the dialogue.

What it’s not: The show is not a couple of cobwebbed school-marms giving lectures. There’s almost no chiding, tsk-tsking, or finger-wagging. Nor is it simply a recitation of what one could easily find in a Google search. There’s also no ranting about language going to hell in a handbasket or the slang of kids today. In fact, what Martha and Grant have to say about the state of the English language may surprise you.

See what program directors are saying about the show.

Find out more about the program.

Get the show on PRSS/Content Depot.

Email Grant Barrett with questions.

Pieces

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This week on "A Way with Words": We often hear that English is going to hell in a handbasket. Actually, though, linguistic handwringing about sinki...

Bought by WETD


  • Added: Mar 05, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 1
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This week on "A Way with Words": The best way to read poetry. When you pick up a book of poems, how many do you read in one sitting? Some people de...

Bought by WEZU, WNJR, WUIS, WETD, WYAP and more


  • Added: Feb 27, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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This week on "A Way with Words": What's in a name? A recent study found that some names crop up more frequently than others in certain professions....

Bought by WSLR, WEZU, WYAP, WUIS, WETD and more


  • Added: Feb 20, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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This week on "A Way with Words: Writers and where they do their best creative work. A new book on Geoffrey Chaucer describes the dark, noisy, smel...

Bought by WSLR, WEZU, WYAP, WUIS, and WNJR


  • Added: Feb 13, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
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This week on "A Way with Words," tricks and tips for writers: Is there a word you keep having to look up in the dictionary, no matter how many time...

Bought by WSLR, WNJR, WUIS, WETD, WYAP and more


  • Added: Feb 05, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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This week on "A Way with Words," slang online and jargon in the workplace: There's a new kind of hamburger menu that involves pixels, not pickles. ...

Bought by WVPE, KMXT, WEZU, WSLR, WNJR and more


  • Added: Jan 29, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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This week on "A Way with Words": Sure, it's scary to send your writing to a literary agent. But pity the poor agent who must wade through hundreds ...

Bought by WVPE, KREV-LP, WSLR, WEZU, WYAP and more


  • Added: Jan 15, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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This week on "A Way with Words": Why call it a doggy bag when it's really for your husband? This week on "A Way with Words": Why call it a doggy ba...

Bought by WVPE, KREV-LP, WSLR, WUIS, KUOW and more


  • Added: Jan 01, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
Caption: Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette
This week on "A Way with Words": You walk into a used bookstore, or pull down an old volume at the library, and there it is: The smell of old books...

Bought by WVPE, WSLR, WYAP, KUOW, and WETD


  • Added: Dec 23, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
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This week on "A Way with Words," reaching out in the digital age: If you're sending out party invitations, what's a sure-fire way to get hold of ev...

Bought by WVPE, WEZU, WCAI / WNAN, WSLR, WUIS and more


  • Added: Dec 18, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
Caption: Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette
This week on "A Way with Words": 'Tis the season for book recommendations! Martha's enjoying an armchair tour of important places in the history of...

Bought by WVPE, WEZU, WETD, and WUIS


  • Added: Dec 12, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
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This week on "A Way with Words," it's all about terms of endearment: If your loved one is far away for a long time, you're probably tired of just s...

Bought by WVPE, WCAI / WNAN, WSLR, WRNC-LP, WETD and more


  • Added: Dec 04, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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This week on "A Way with Words": Say you're in line at the drugstore. Does it bother you if the cashier says, "Next guest"? In department stores an...

Bought by WVPE, WSLR, WRNC-LP, WETD, KUOW and more


  • Added: Nov 26, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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A pint-sized mad scientist, a green-haired girl with a contagious sense of wonder, and a 10-year-old detective. They're all characters in the books...

Bought by WVPE, WRNC-LP, WSLR, WEZU, KREV-LP and more


  • Added: Nov 20, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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Some people proudly embrace the label cancer survivor, while others feel that's not quite the right word. Is there a better term for someone who's ...

Bought by WVPE, KREV-LP, WSLR, WEZU, WRNC-LP and more


  • Added: Nov 13, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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This week on "A Way with Words": Creative communication in a noisy world! Writing a clever 140-character tweet isn't easy. But you know what's even...

Bought by WVPE, KREV-LP, WSLR, WEZU, WUIS and more


  • Added: Nov 06, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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Bathroom walls, missing graffiti, and social media. Where have all the cute quips on bathroom stalls gone? We wonder about the apparent decline of...

Bought by WVPE, WEZU, KREV-LP, WYAP, WRNC-LP and more


  • Added: Oct 30, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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This week on "A Way with Words": What's in YOUR spice rack? Say you're cooking up a pot of chili, and you need to add more of that warm, earthy, po...

Bought by WVPE, KREV-LP, WYAP, WEZU, WSLR and more


  • Added: Oct 23, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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This week on A Way with Words: The language of restaurant menus. Need a dictionary to get through a dinner menu? Research shows the longer the desc...

Bought by WVPE, WRNC-LP, KREV-LP, WSLR, WEZU and more


  • Added: Oct 16, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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What a difference pronunciation makes! The United States has a Department of Defense, and an individual might take classes in self-defense. So why ...

Bought by WVPE, KREV-LP, WEZU, WYAP, WSLR and more


  • Added: Oct 09, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8