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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Can reading poetry make you a better writer? Grant and Martha discuss how reading poetry improves your prose. Also, how linguists guess where you c...

Bought by WEZU, WUIS, WSLR, KUOW, and WETD


  • Added: Jul 17, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
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Do Americans use the same sign language as the Brits? And what do Japanese people use instead of "umm?" Grant and Martha cover language shifts acro...

Bought by WEZU, WSLR, WUIS, KUOW, and WETD


  • Added: Jul 10, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
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You dream of writing the great American novel, but to make ends meet, you spend your days writing boring corporate reports. There's a difference be...

Bought by KAWC, WSLR, WUIS, KUOW, and WEZU


  • Added: Jul 03, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
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This week on "A Way with Words": Someone should write a love letter to a new book called "Letters of Note." It's a splendid collection of all kinds...

Bought by WETD, WUIS, WSLR, and KUOW


  • Added: Jun 26, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
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This week on "A Way with Words": Some of us can't go anywhere without a book or something to read. And one fast food joint hears you: Chipotle is n...

Bought by WRNC-LP, WETD, WEZU, WSLR, WUIS and more


  • Added: Jun 19, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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This week on "A Way with Words": Giving your baby an unusual moniker may seem like a great idea at the time. But what if you have second thoughts? ...

Bought by WRNC-LP, WEZU, and KFOK-LP


  • Added: Jun 12, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 3
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This week on "A Way with Words": Your telephone is for talking, right? Or is it? We're guessing it's been a while since you sat next to a telephone...

Bought by WSLR, WUIS, and KUOW


  • Added: Jun 12, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 3
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Remember the classic films Dogumentary and $3000? Those were their working titles, before they became Best In Show and Pretty Woman. We look at how...

Bought by WRNC-LP, KFOK-LP, WEZU, KUOW, and WUIS


  • Added: May 29, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
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You've been reading a book but you're just not into it. How do you quit it, guilt-free? How do you break up with a book? Also, what do you ask for ...

Bought by WETD, WEZU, KUOW, and WUIS


  • Added: May 22, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
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Everyone knows you don't start a sentence with "But." But why? We sort out the confusion over this little word. Also, how voice recognition technol...

Bought by KFOK-LP, WEZU, KUOW, WUIS, and WETD


  • Added: May 15, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
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This week on "A Way with Words": What's so special about the phrase Sit on a pan, Otis!? It's an example of a palindrome -- a word or phrase that'...

Bought by WEZU, WRFA-LP, and KREV-LP


  • Added: May 09, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 3
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This week on "A Way with Words": The SAT is changing things up, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Just because words like membranous are no l...

Bought by KREV-LP, KUOW, WEZU, and WETD


  • Added: May 01, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
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It used to be that you called any mixed-breed dog a mutt. But at today's dog parks, you're just as likely to run into schnugs, bassadors, and dalma...

Bought by KREV-LP, KUOW, WUIS, WRNC-LP, and WEZU


  • Added: Apr 25, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
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What do you call a guy with a bald pate? A chrome dome? Maybe the lucky fellow is sporting a solar panel for a sex machine. Also, which would you r...

Bought by KREV-LP, WNJR, and KFOK-LP


  • Added: Apr 25, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 3
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This week, forensic linguists use what they know about speech and writing to testify in courtrooms. And get out your hankies! Martha and Grant are ...

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


  • Added: Apr 10, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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This week on "A Way with Words": If everyone on the planet spoke a single language, wouldn't that make life a whole lot easier? For that matter, is...

Bought by KFOK-LP, PRX Demo Station, WNJR, WOUB, WETD and more


  • Added: Apr 03, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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Springtime is the right time to feel twitterpated—you know, you're smitten beyond a crush. Speaking of relationships, are dog owners really owners,...

Bought by WUIS, WRNC-LP, KFOK-LP, WNJR, WOUB and more


  • Added: Mar 27, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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This week on "A Way with Words": Is it cheating to say you've read a book if you only listened to it on tape? Over the centuries, the way we think ...

Bought by KFOK-LP, WRNC-LP, WNJR, WOUB, KREV-LP and more


  • Added: Mar 20, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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This week on "A Way with Words": You're at a social gathering and meet someone you'd like to know better. What do you ask to get a real conversatio...

Bought by WETD, KFOK-LP, WRNC-LP, KREV-LP, WOUB and more


  • Added: Mar 13, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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The Pope is tweeting in Latin! But can an ancient language adapt to a world of selfies and hashtags? Speaking of the future, cars are now talking t...

Bought by WUIS, KREV-LP, WRNC-LP, WOUB, WEZU and more


  • Added: Mar 06, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7