A Way With Words on RADIO IQ with BBC

Saturdays at 7:00 pm on RADIO IQ.
Martha Barnette, Grant Barrett

A Way With Words is a weekly, hour-long, national, caller-based program about language. Author Martha Barnette and lexicographer Grant Barrett take calls about slang, grammar, linguistic heirlooms, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, and speaking and writing well.

By looking at the world through the lens of language, A Way With Words offers a brand-new perspective on politics, pop culture, history, sports, music, science, literature, and foreign cultures.

Funny, informative, and fast-paced, each hour-long episode includes a word puzzle and slang quiz. 

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Program Headlines

  • Friday, April 10, 2015 1:07pm
    Sharing a secret language. Did you ever speak in gibberish with a childhood pal, adding extra syllables to words so the adults couldn’t understand what you were saying? Such wordplay isn’t just for kids–and it’s not just limited to English. Also, memory tricks to hold onto those slippery words you always forget. And, what do [...]
  • Friday, April 10, 2015 11:51am
    In Northern Ireland, a clever way to say that someone has an overinflated sense of his own importance is to say he’s “no goat’s toe.” This is part of a complete episode.
  • Friday, April 10, 2015 11:51am
    “Cutting a rusty,” used particularly in the U.S. South and South Midlands, refers to doing something mildly outrageous like shouting a naughty word or pulling a prank. It’s likely related to the word restive, as in restive sleep, wherein someone’s tossing and turning, and an old sense of rusty applied to horses to mean “hard [...]
  • Friday, April 10, 2015 11:51am
    “I feel you fam,” or “I feel u fam,” is a term that’s been popping up on social media sites like Vine and YikYak to tell someone you relate to what they’re saying or dealing with, even though you’re not actually family. This is part of a complete episode.
  • Friday, April 10, 2015 11:51am
    Aught, meaning “zero,” is one of those odd terms where the original version—naught—was heard as two words, so people started saying an aught. This same process, known as metanalysis, misdivision, and a few other names, happened with napron and nadder, which eventually became apron and adder. This is part of a complete episode.