Life of Riley (Rebroadcast) - 15 April 2024
A Way with Words
by Hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett. Produced by Stefanie Levine.
1d ago
Unwrap the name of a candy bar, and you just might find a story inside. For instance, one chewy treat found in many a checkout lane is named after a family’s beloved horse. And: 50 years ago in the United States, some Latino elementary students were made to adopt English versions of their own names and forbidden to speak Spanish. The idea was to help them assimilate, but that practice came with a price. Plus, who is Riley, and why is their life a luxurious one? Also: a brain-busting quiz about synonyms, salary, dingle-dousie, strong work, a leg up, it must have been a lie, don’t get into any j ..read more
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Blue Dolphin - 8 April 2024
A Way with Words
by Hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett. Produced by Stefanie Levine.
1w ago
How can you kick the verbal habit of saying you know and um so many times in a sentence? For one thing, get comfortable with pauses. There’s no need to fill every silence during a conversation. Also, a doctor who treats patients in Appalachia shares their colorful vocabulary. If you have a rising in your leader or a misery in your jaw, you may want medical attention. Speaking of ailments, have you ever suffered from warbler neck? Birding enthusiasts get it from searching for hard-to-find species perched in treetops. Plus, mouthfeel, pan-pan, inkhorn terms, Hollywood anachronisms, dout, Werner ..read more
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Off the Turnip Truck (Rebroadcast) - 1 April 2024
A Way with Words
by Hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett. Produced by Stefanie Levine.
2w ago
It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when people disagreed over the best word to use when answering the phone. Alexander Graham Bell suggested answering with ahoy! but Thomas Edison was partial to hello! A fascinating new book about internet language says this disagreement is worth remembering when we talk about how greetings are evolving today — both online and off. Plus, a Los Angeles teacher asks: What are the rules for teen profanity in the classroom? Finally, why some people mimic the accents of others. It might be simple thoughtlessness, but it might also be an earnest, if awkw ..read more
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Loaded For Bear (Rebroadcast) - 18 March 2024
A Way with Words
by Hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett. Produced by Stefanie Levine.
1M ago
One way to make your new business look trendy is to use two nouns separated by an ampersand, like Peach & Creature or Rainstorm & Egg or … just about any other two-word combination. A tongue-in-cheek website will generate names like that for you. And: In the traditions of several African countries, names for babies are often inspired by conditions at the time of their birth, like a period of grief or wedding festivities, or the baby’s position when leaving the womb. In Zambia, for example, some people go by the name Bornface, because they were born face up. Also, slang from a rock-clim ..read more
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Bronx Cheer - 11 March 2024
A Way with Words
by Hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett. Produced by Stefanie Levine.
1M ago
What’s the best thing to say to someone who is grieving? Choosing the right words is far less important than just showing up. Also, a family from Russia shares their recipe for something they call hot tamales, that are very un-Mexican. And: if someone’s trying to be philosophical about a situation, they might say sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you. Plus, horsengoggling, a fragrant 16th-century simile, might as well, can’t dance, a puzzle about cryptic crosswords, Trevlac, Québécois French, Pearl at the picnic, avoir l’air d’une vache qui regarde passer un train, a messy pa ..read more
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Mrs. Astor's Horse (Rebroadcast) - 4 March 2024
A Way with Words
by Hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett. Produced by Stefanie Levine.
1M ago
“What has a head like a cat, feet like a cat, a tail like a cat, but isn’t a cat?” Answer: a kitten! A 1948 children’s joke book has lots of these to share with kids. Plus: an easy explanation for the difference between immigrate with an i, and emigrate with an e. And: The ancient Greeks revered storks for the way they cared for each other. They even had a legal requirement called the Stork Law, which mandated that Greek adults look after their elderly parents. Much later, the same idea inspired a rare English word that means “reciprocal love between children and parents.” All that, plus a bra ..read more
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At First Blush (Rebroadcast) - 19 February 2024
A Way with Words
by Hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett. Produced by Stefanie Levine.
1M ago
Book recommendations and the art of apology. Martha and Grant share some good reads, including an opinionated romp through English grammar, a Spanish-language adventure novel, an account of 19th-century dictionary wars, and a gorgeously illustrated book of letters to young readers. Plus, what’s the best language for conveying a heartfelt apology? Ideally, an apology won’t be the end of a conversation. Rather, it will be the beginning of one. Plus, a brain-busting word quiz, snow job, clean as a whistle, high muckety-muck, tip us your daddle, and a wet bird never flies at night, and lots more ..read more
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Ghost Runner - 26 February 2024
A Way with Words
by Hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett. Produced by Stefanie Levine.
1M ago
In Japan, if you want to order a corndog, you ask for an Amerikan doggu (アメリカンドッグ). These types of coinages are called wasei-eigo , or “Japanese-made English,” and there are lots of them. Plus, there’s an atmospheric optical phenomenon that looks somewhat like the aurora borealis, but has a much friendlier name. Scientists refer to these ribbons of color as … Steve. And: need a synonym for the word “conspicuous”? There’s always kenspeckle . Also, nitnoy , faire la grasse matinée , sunday-to-meeting , sana, sana, colita de rana, a codebreaker who solves a years-long mystery, a brain teaser abou ..read more
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At First Blush (Rebroadcast) - 19 February 2024
A Way with Words
by Hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett. Produced by Stefanie Levine.
2M ago
Book recommendations and the art of apology. Martha and Grant share some good reads, including an opinionated romp through English grammar, a Spanish-language adventure novel, an account of 19th-century dictionary wars, and a gorgeously illustrated book of letters to young readers. Plus, what's the best language for conveying a heartfelt apology? Ideally, an apology won't be the end of a conversation. Rather, it will be the beginning of one. Plus, a brain-busting word quiz, snow job, clean as a whistle, high muckety-muck, tip us your daddle, and a wet bird never flies at night. Read full show ..read more
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Sweet Spot - 12 February 2024
A Way with Words
by Hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett. Produced by Stefanie Levine.
2M ago
If you’re in a book club, how do you decide what books to read? There are lots of different ways, depending on your group’s goals. And is it ever wise to correct someone who mispronounces a word? Sometimes you have to decide if it’s better to be right–or simply get along. Plus, some research suggests that when presented with photos from nature, humans naturally focus on animals instead of plants. Botanists even have a term for this tendency: plant blindness. Also, tight as a drum, a funny quiz about slightly altered Stephen King titles, sweet spot, lemniscate, kehrätä, mais garde donc, fourth ..read more
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