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Light-hearted conversation with callers from all over about new words, old sayings, slang, family expressions, and language change and differences, as well as word histories, etymology, linguistics, regional dialects, word games, grammar, books, literature, writing, and more. Listeners of all backgrounds can join author/journalist Martha Barnette and linguist/lexicographer Grant Barrett on the show with their language thoughts, questions, and stories: https://waywordradio.org/contact or word ...
 
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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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…
 
Many of us struggled with the Old English poem “Beowulf” in high school. But what if you could actually hear “Beowulf” in the English of today? There’s a new translation by Maria Dahvana Headley that uses contemporary language and even internet slang to create a fresh take on this centuries-old poem — right down to addressing the reader as Bro! Als…
 
What’s it like to hike the Pacific Crest Trail all the way from Mexico to Canada? You’ll end up with sore muscles and blisters, and great stories to tell. Along the way, you’ll also pick up some slang, like NoBo, SoBo, Yo-yo and Hike Naked Day, an annual event that’s pretty much what it sounds like. Plus, which came first, the color orange or the f…
 
Astronauts returning from space say they experience what's called the overview effect, a new understanding of the fragility of our planet and our need to reflect on what humans all share as a species. A book about the end of the universe offers a similar change in perspective — along with some fascinating language. Plus, different names for a delic…
 
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 …
 
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 …
 
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…
 
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…
 
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 interjection word!, meaning “believe me!” The original version inv…
 
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 …
 
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…
 
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 …
 
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 d…
 
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…
 
An ornithologist says there’s a growing movement to change the name of a pink-footed bird currently called the flesh-footed shearwater. The movement reflects a growing understanding that using flesh-colored for “pink” fails to acknowledge the full range of human skin color. Plus, is hooligan an anti-Irish slur? Some people might perceive it that wa…
 
In 1971, when a new public library opened in Troy, Michigan, famous authors and artists were invited to write letters to the city's youngest readers, extolling the many benefits of libraries. One of the loveliest was from E.B. White, author of Charlotte's Web. Plus, you may think navel-gazing is a relatively new idea -- but it goes back at least to…
 
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