A Way with Words

Hosts,  Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette

About ‘A Way With Words’

A Way with Words is an upbeat and lively hour-long public radio show and podcast about language examined through history, culture, and family. Each week, author/journalist Martha Barnette and lexicographer/linguist Grant Barrett talk with callers about slang, old sayings, new words, grammar, 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, on the air since 1998, is heard weekly by more than a half-million listeners over the air across the United States and around the world by podcast. The show is produced by Wayword, Inc., a small independent nonprofit unaffiliated with any station or network.Other pages you might be interested in:

What You’ll Hear

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. It’s of high value to native and non-native speakers alike, including ESL and ELT teachers and students.

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.

You’ll hear conversation about:

  • new words from pop culture, sports, science, music, and art

  • the language of current events

  • political jargon and other words in the headlines

  • the latest language breakthroughs

  • family expressions and linguistic heirlooms — old-fashioned things your grandparents and parents said

  • books, literature, reading, and writing

  • word games, puzzles, and quizzes

  • proverbs, idioms, folklore and catchphrases

  • word histories, slang, and new words

  • language in the classroom, including English as a second language

  • dialects, accents, and vocabulary of regional and ethnic groups

  • speaking, speech, and pronunciation

  • grammar, syntax, and semantics

The Nonprofit and its Mission

The radio program is produced and distributed by Wayword, Inc., a California-incorporated 501(c)(3). The organization, through the radio show and podcast of A Way with Words, through live events, and through its online presence, promotes better human communication and understanding. It does this by looking at language through the lenses of family, history, and culture, and by revealing human connections across eras, generations, cultures, and languages. Read more about its mission, vision, and values here.

Wayword, Inc., is not owned or operated by any other company. It receives no funding or support from NPR or any other radio network, nor from any radio station.

The nonprofit is primarily funded through listener, foundation, and corporate donations, and through corporate sponsorships. Additional secondary income is earned from public events.

Episode Archives