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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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Online recaps of Mad Men or Breaking Bad can be as much fun as the shows themselves. So why not recap classic literature -- like, say, Dante's Infe...

Bought by WUIS, WNJR, and WETD


  • Added: Apr 24, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 3
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This week on "A Way with Words": Careful what you criticize! Not long ago, some words that sound perfectly normal today were considered gauche and ...

Bought by WEZU, WUIS, WNJR, and WETD


  • Added: Apr 16, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
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This week on "A Way with Words": Sharing a secret language. Did you ever speak in gibberish with a childhood pal, adding extra syllables to words s...

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


  • Added: Apr 10, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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What do your pronouns say about your own psychological makeup? If you use the word I a lot, does it mean you're a leader . . . or a follower? A sur...

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


  • Added: Apr 02, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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This week on "A Way with Words": It's the language of Wisconsin: If you're nibbling on slippery Jims or sipping sweet soup, chances are you're in ...

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


  • Added: Mar 26, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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The books we love as children may influence our careers more than we realize. As a child, Martha was fascinated with stories of cracking codes, and...

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


  • Added: Mar 19, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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This week on "A Way with Words": Constructing imaginary languages and deconstructing the lingo of Hollywood. For example, would you rather live in ...

Bought by WSLR, KREV-LP, WNJR, WUIS, and WETD


  • Added: Mar 12, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
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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 KREV-LP, WEZU, WSLR, WUIS, WNJR and more


  • Added: Mar 05, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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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 KREV-LP, WRNC-LP, WEZU, WNJR, WUIS and more


  • Added: Feb 27, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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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 KREV-LP, WSLR, WEZU, WYAP, WUIS and more


  • Added: Feb 20, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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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 KREV-LP, WSLR, WEZU, WYAP, WUIS and more


  • Added: Feb 13, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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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 KREV-LP, WSLR, WNJR, WUIS, WETD and more


  • Added: Feb 05, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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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