A Way With Words

Thursday at 11 am
Martha Barnette, Grant Barrett

Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette

  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. The show is heard by more than a quarter-million listeners each week over the air and by podcast.



  • Sunday, February 9, 2014 4:53pm
    We all lead busy lives—so are speed reading courses a good idea? Plus, if you hear someone speaking with a British accent, do you tend to assume they’re somehow more intelligent? And some common English surnames tell us stories about life in the Middle Ages. Plus, a 29-letter word for the fear of the number [...]
  • Saturday, February 1, 2014 11:25am
    Dude! We’re used to hearing the word “dude” applied to guys. But increasingly, young women use the word “dude” to address each other. Grant and Martha talk about linguistic research about the meaning and uses of “dude.” Also, the story behind the term “eavesdropping.” Originally, it referred to the act of standing outside someone’s window. [...]
  • Saturday, January 25, 2014 10:34am
    For language lovers, it’s like New Year’s, Fourth of July, and the Super Bowl all rolled into one: The brand-new online edition of the Dictionary of American Regional English. Martha and Grant explain what all the fuss is about. Plus, the debate over that meal in a glass container: some call it a hot dish, [...]
  • Saturday, January 18, 2014 9:07am
    It’s the business of business jargon. Say you’re in line at the drugstore. Does it bother you if the cashier says, “Next guest”? In department stores and coffeeshops, does the term “guest” suggest real hospitality—or just an annoying edict from corporate headquarters? And speaking of buzzwords, has your boss adopted the trendy term “cadence”? Also: [...]
  • Saturday, January 11, 2014 9:18am
    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 on Grant’s latest list of recommended books for children. Also, what’s the word for a female octopus? How about a male kangaroo? A colorful book for younger kids has those answers and [...]