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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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National Book Award winner Barry Lopez had wise advice for young writers. First, read widely and follow your curiosity. Second, travel or learn a foreign language. And third, find out what you truly believe, because if you're not writing from your beliefs, then you're just passing along information. And: if someone says they're going to plant flags…
 
It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when people disagreed over the best word to use when answering the phone. Alexander Graham Bell suggested answering with Ahoy! but Thomas Edison was partial to Hello. A fascinating new book about internet language says this disagreement is worth remembering when we talk about how greetings are evolving…
 
What kind of book do people ask for most often in prison? Romance Novels? No. The Bible? No. The most requested books by far are . . . dictionaries! A number of volunteer organizations gather and distribute used dictionaries to help inmates with reading, writing, and schoolwork. Plus: For some low-tech family fun, how about egg-tapping? Traditional…
 
One way to make your new business look trendy is to use two nouns separated by an ampersand, like Peach & Creature . . . or Rainstorm & Egg. A tongue-in-cheek website will generate names like that for you. And: in the traditions of several African countries, names for babies are often inspired by conditions at the time of their birth, like a period…
 
Twice a day the River Thames recedes, revealing a muddy shoreline. Hobbyists known as mudlarks stroll the surface searching for objects that have found their way into the river over the centuries -- everything from ancient Roman jewelry to modern wedding rings. A new book about mudlarking describes the irresistible appeal of searching for treasures…
 
"What has a head like a cat, feet like a cat, a tail like a cat, but isn't a cat?" Answer: a kitten! A 1948 children's joke book has lots of these to share with kids. Plus: an easy explanation for the difference between immigrate with an i, and emigrate with an e. And ....a story about storks. The ancient Greeks revered these birds for the way they…
 
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! Al…
 
Book recommendations and the art of apology. Martha and Grant share some good reads, including an opinionated romp through English grammar, a Spanish-language adventure novel, an account of 19th-century dictionary wars, and a gorgeously illustrated book of letters to young readers. Plus, what's the best language for conveying a heartfelt apology? I…
 
The edge of the Grand Canyon. A remote mountaintop, or a medieval cathedral. Some places are so mystical you feel like you're close to another dimension of space and time. There's a term for such locales: thin places. And: did you ever go tick-tacking a few nights before Halloween? Tic-tacking refers to pranks like tapping ominously on windows with…
 
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, well, pretty much what it sounds like. Plus, which came first, the color or…
 
This week on A Way with Words: Your first name is very personal, but what if you don't like it? For some people, changing their name works out great, but for others, it may create more problems than it solves. And: at least three towns in the U.S. were christened with names formed by spelling a word backwards. There's a name for such names: they're…
 
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, a recipe for a delicious d…
 
The autocomplete function on your phone comes in handy, of course. But is it changing the way we write and how linguists study language? Also, suppose you could invite any two authors, living or dead, to dinner. Who's on your guest list and why? Plus, anchors aweigh! The slang of sailors includes the kind of BOSS you'd better dodge, a barn you sail…
 
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…
 
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