We're working on a new version of PRX. Want a sneak peek?

A Way with Words

GroupAccount image
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

Piece image
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 WUIS, KUOW, and WETD


  • Added: Dec 18, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 3
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 WEZU, WETD, and WUIS


  • Added: Dec 12, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 3
Piece image
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 WSLR, WRNC-LP, WETD, WUIS, KUOW and more


  • Added: Dec 04, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
Piece image
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 WSLR, WRNC-LP, WETD, KUOW, WUIS and more


  • Added: Nov 26, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Piece image
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 WRNC-LP, WSLR, WEZU, KREV-LP, WUIS and more


  • Added: Nov 20, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Piece image
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 KREV-LP, WSLR, WEZU, WRNC-LP, WUIS and more


  • Added: Nov 13, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
Piece image
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 WSLR, WEZU, WUIS, WYAP, WRNC-LP and more


  • Added: Nov 06, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Piece image
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 WEZU, KREV-LP, WYAP, WRNC-LP, WUIS and more


  • Added: Oct 30, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
Piece image
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 KREV-LP, WYAP, WEZU, WSLR, WRNC-LP and more


  • Added: Oct 23, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Piece image
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 WRNC-LP, KREV-LP, WSLR, WEZU, WUIS and more


  • Added: Oct 16, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
Piece image
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 KREV-LP, WEZU, WYAP, WSLR, KUOW and more


  • Added: Oct 09, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
Piece image
This week on "A Way with Words": Teaching our children, and some advice for writers. Suppose your child is eager to tackle a difficult subject--anc...

Bought by KREV-LP, WSLR, WEZU, WYAP, and WUIS


  • Added: Oct 03, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
Piece image
This week on "A Way with Words": Modern language with very old origins. If you're on tenterhooks, it means you're in a state of anxious anticipatio...

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


  • Added: Sep 26, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
Piece image
First names like "Patience," "Hope," and "Charity" are inspired by worthy qualities. But how about "Be-courteous" or "Hate-evil"? The Puritans some...

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


  • Added: Sep 18, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
Piece image
This week's episode is all about relationships: When to correct your spouse, how to address those wedding invitations, and what kind of lingo to ex...

Bought by KUNR, WNIN, and KVSC


  • Added: Sep 11, 2014
  • Length: 29:58
  • Purchases: 3
Piece image
Starting this year, Scripps National Spelling Bee contestants not only have to spell words correctly. A controversial new rule means they'll have t...

Bought by WNIN, WSLR, WEZU, KREV-LP, WETD and more


  • Added: Sep 11, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Piece image
Have a question about objective pronouns? Whom ya gonna call? Wait--is that right? Or would it be "who ya gonna call"? "Whom" may be technically co...

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


  • Added: Sep 04, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
Piece image
Today's most popular dog names are Max and Bella. In the Middle Ages, though, dogs would answer to names like Amiable. Or Nosewise. Or even . . . ...

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


  • Added: Aug 28, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
Piece image
It's the Up Goer Five Challenge! Try to describe something complex using only the thousand most common words in English. It's a useful mental exerc...

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


  • Added: Aug 21, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Piece image
Remember a few years ago when Amazon introduced that mysterious device called a Kindle? People worried that electronic readers would replace tradit...

Bought by WSLR, WRNC-LP, WEZU, and WYAP


  • Added: Aug 15, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4