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Co-hosts Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett talk with callers who have questions and stories about linguistics, old sayings, word histories, etymology, regional dialects, slang, new words, word play, word games, grammar, family expressions, books, literature, writing, and more. Your language questions: https://waywordradio.org/contact or words@waywordradio.org. Call toll-free *any* time in the U.S. and Canada at 1 (877) 929-9673. From elsewhere in the world: +1 619 800 4443. All past shows ar ...
 
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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show series
 
How do actors bring Shakespeare's lines to life so that modern audiences immediately understand the text? One way is to emphasize the names of people and places at certain points. That technique is called billboarding. And: Anyone for an alphabet game? A pangram is a sentence that uses EVERY letter of the alphabet at least once. There's the one abo…
 
In the 15th century, the word respair meant "to have hope again." Although this word fell out of use, it's among dozens collected in a new book of soothing vocabulary for troubled times. Plus, baseball slang: If a batter doesn't pour the pine," an outfielder may snag a can of corn, or "an easily caught fly ball." And the 1960s TV show "Laugh-In" sp…
 
Stunt performers in movies have their own jargon for talking about their dangerous work. They refer to a stunt, for example, as a gag. Across the country in Brooklyn, the slang term brick means "cold," and dumb brick means "really cold." Plus: the East and Central African tradition that distinguishes between ancestors who remain alive in living mem…
 
We asked for your thoughts about whether cursive writing should be taught in schools -- and you replied with a resounding "Yes!" Here's why: Cursive helps develop fine motor skills, improves mental focus, and lets you read old handwritten letters and other documents. Plus: finding your way to a more nuanced understanding of language; the more you k…
 
Asthenosphere, a geologist's term for the molten layer beneath the earth's crust, sparks a journey that stretches all the way from ancient Greece to the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Plus: What the heck is a dogberg? It's when a dog runs into you and knocks you over. This bit of slang was inspired by a professional wrestler who finished off his oppo…
 
If someone urges you to spill the tea, they probably don't want you tipping over a hot beverage. Originally, the tea here was the letter T, as in truth. To spill the T means to pass along truthful information. Plus, some delicious Italian idioms involving food. The Italian phrase that literally translates Eat the soup or jump out the window! means …
 
Amid court-ordered busing in the 1970s, a middle-school teacher tried to distract her nervous students on the first day of class with this strange assignment: find a monarch caterpillar. The result? A memorable lesson in the miracle of metamorphosis. Plus, the story behind the slang expression Word!, meaning "Believe me!" The original version invol…
 
When you had sleepovers as a child, what did you call the makeshift beds you made on the floor? In some places, you call those bedclothes and blankets a pallet. This word comes from an old term for "straw." And: What's the story behind the bedtime admonition "Sleep tight, and don't let the bedbugs bite"? Plus, when grownups are talking about sex or…
 
Jacuzzi and silhouette are eponyms – that is, they derive from the names of people. An Italian immigrant to California invented the bubbly hot tub called a jacuzzi. And the word silhouette commemorates a penny-pinching treasury secretary who lasted only a few months in office and was associated with these shadow portraits. Also, if the words strubb…
 
The emotional appeal of handwriting and the emotional reveal of animal phrases. Should children be taught cursive writing in school, or is their time better spent studying other things? A handwritten note and a typed one may use the very same words, but handwritten version may seem much more intimate. Plus, English is full of grisly expressions abo…
 
Some TV commercials launch catchphrases that stick around long after the original ads. The exclamation Good stuff, Maynard! is still a compliment almost 40 years after it was used in a commercial for Malt-O-Meal hot cereal. And: what do you call that room where the whole family gathers? The family room? The den? The TV room? Names for that part of …
 
If you speak both German and Spanish, you may find yourself reaching for a German word instead of a Spanish one, and vice versa. This puzzling experience is so common among polyglots that linguists have a name for it. Also, the best writers create luscious, long sentences using the same principles that make for a musician's melodious phrasing or a …
 
How does social context shape our perception of language? When hiking the Appalachian Trail, a young woman from Wyoming found that fellow hikers assumed she was from another country, not only because of how she spoke, but also how she looked. Sometimes our perception of other people's accents have more to do with social context than with any real d…
 
Chances are you recognize the expressions Judgment Day and the root of all evil as phrases from the Bible. There are many others, though, some of which may surprise you: the powers that be and bottomless pit first appeared in scripture. Plus, there's a term for when the language of a minority is adopted by the majority. When, for example, expressio…
 
What happens in a classroom of refugee and immigrant youngsters learning English? Their fresh approach to language can result in remarkable poetry -- some of which is collected in the anthology England: Poems from a School. Also, new language among healthcare professionals: the term cohorting describes the act of grouping patients with COVID-19 in …
 
We have books that should be on every language lover's wish list, plus a couple of recommendations for history buffs. Plus: how did the word boondoggle come to denote a wasteful project? The answer involves the Boy Scouts, a baby, a craft project, and a city council meeting. Plus, wordplay with palindromes. Instead of reversing just individual lett…
 
Are there words and phrases that you misunderstood for an embarrassingly long time? Maybe you thought that money laundering literally meant washing drug-laced dollar bills, or that AM radio stations only broadcast in the morning? A Twitter thread prompts those and other funny confessions. And: a moving new memoir by Kansas writer Sarah Smarsh touch…
 
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