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Light-hearted conversation with callers from all over about new words, old sayings, slang, family expressions, language change and varieties, as well as word histories, linguistics, regional dialects, word games, grammar, books, literature, writing, and more. You can join author/journalist Martha Barnette and linguist/lexicographer Grant Barrett on the show with your language thoughts, questions, and stories: https://waywordradio.org/contact or words@waywordradio.org. In the US 🇺🇸 and Canada ...
 
On the Words Work At Microsoft Podcast, we’ll be chatting about how Microsoft culture has evolved, starting with the way we talk. In each episode we’ll interview someone within the Microsoft writing community, giving you an inside look at how we approach our work. And, hopefully, offering up a heavy dose of trips and tricks along the way. www.wordsworkpodcast.com
 
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Some college students are using the word loyalty as a synonym for monogamy. Are the meanings of these words now shifting? Plus, a biologist discovers a new species of bat, then names it after a poet he admires. The poet? Nikki Giovanni. Also, warm memories of how a childhood library card becomes a passport to new worlds. And: for a spell vs. cast a…
 
While compiling the Oxford English Dictionary, lexicographer James Murray exchanged hundreds of letters a week with authors, advisors, and volunteer researchers. A new collection online lets you eavesdrop on discussions about which words should be in the dictionary and why — including words that might offend Victorian sensibilities. Also why are so…
 
Need a slang term that can replace just about any noun? Try chumpie. If you're from Philadelphia, you may already know this handy placeholder word. And there's Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, and … The Bronx — why do we add the definite article to the name of that New York borough? The answer lies in the area's geography and local famil…
 
Diamond dust, tapioca snow, and sugar icebergs — a 1955 glossary of arctic and subarctic terms describes the environment in ways that sound poetic. And a mom says her son is dating someone who's non-binary. She supports their relationship, but still struggles to use their preferred pronouns in a way that feels natural to her. Plus, A Way with Words…
 
It was a dark and stormy night. So begins the long and increasingly convoluted prose of Edwards Bulwer-Lytton’s best-known novel. Today the annual Bulwer-Lytton Contest asks contestants for fanciful first sentences that are similarly convoluted and over-the-top — often with hilarious results. Plus: George Orwell’s prescient novel 1984 gave us the t…
 
High school students in Alabama share some favorite slang terms. If someone tells you to touch grass, they’re telling you to get a reality check — but the last thing you’d actually want to touch is dog water! Also, the history of the word hangover, and the many names, in several languages, for the effects of drinking too much alcohol. Plus, Do you …
 
Enthusiastic book recommendations! Martha's savoring the biography of Alexander von Humboldt, the 19th-century explorer, polymath, and naturalist who revolutionized our understanding of nature and predicted the effects of human activity on climate. Grant's enjoying A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, about how the study of DNA is rewriting …
 
A documentary film called My Beautiful Stutter follows youngsters at a summer camp specifically for stutterers. It's a place for finding acceptance, support, and confidence for navigating the larger world. And:, "The High Priestess of Soul," Nina Simone, was one of the most beguiling performers of all time. A beautiful new picture book for children…
 
There are word nerds, and then there’s the woman who set up a folding chair on sidewalks throughout the country, cheerfully dispensing tips about grammar. She recounts her adventures in a new book. And the story of the brilliant pioneer of computing language whose name lives on in a familiar term. Plus, when you get a new haircut, beware of anyone …
 
We use the term Milky Way for that glowing arc across the sky. But how people picture it varies from culture to culture. In Sweden, that starry band goes by a name that means "Winter Street," and in Hawaii, a term for the Milky Way translates as "fish jumping in shadows." And: the history of naming rooms in a house. Some old houses have a room off …
 
A caller wonders if she’s being hypersensitive about the way her boss addresses her in emails. Can the use of an employee’s first name ever reflect a power differential? And: a community choir director wants a term for “the act of gathering to sing for the pure joy of it, without ever preparing for a performance.” For her, the word rehearsal doesn’…
 
The words tough, through, and dough all end in O-U-G-H. So why don't they rhyme? A lively new book addresses the many quirks of English by explaining the history of words and phrases. And: have you ever been in a situation where a group makes a decision to do something, only to discover later that no one really wanted to do that thing in the first …
 
Language is always evolving, and that’s also true for American Sign Language. A century ago, the sign for “telephone” was one fist below your mouth and the other at your ear, as if you’re holding an old-fashioned candlestick phone. Now you can sign “phone” with a one-handed gesture. Plus, colorful restaurant slang from the hit TV show The Bear insp…
 
When there's no evening meal planned at home, what do you call that scramble to cobble together your own dinner? Some people apply acronyms like YOYO — "you're on your own" — or CORN, for "Clean Out your Refrigerator Night." Plus, when a barista hands you hot coffee in a paper cup, you may get a zarf to put it in — but what is that? And, the ongoin…
 
How long can a newly married woman be called a bride? Does bride apply only as long as her wedding day, or does it extend right on through the couple’s silver anniversary and beyond? Plus, insightful advice about writing from a Pulitzer winner: Observe carefully, find what you’re uniquely qualified to say, and give voice to your own astonishment. A…
 
A librarian opens a book and finds a mysterious invitation scribbled on the back of a business card. Another discovers a child's letter to the Tooth Fairy, tucked into a book decades ago. What stories are left untold by these forgotten, makeshift bookmarks? Also: a "cumshaw artist" is the wily member of a military unit who knows the shortcuts of pr…
 
Whether it's a Rubik's cube or a round of Wordle, why do so many of us find puzzles irresistible? A new book celebrates the allure and psychological benefits of brain teasers. Plus, powerful language for talking about the chronic illnesses and invisible disabilities that sap a person's energy and focus. And what would you wear to a wet dress rehear…
 
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