“A Way with Words” is a call-in public radio show about language. It’s heard across the country and around the world by broadcast and podcast.” This program is co-hosted by Martha Barnette, who is also a journalist and the author of several books on language, as well as Grant Barrett, who is a dictionary editor and linguist specializing in slang and new words. Sometimes the two of them bring this show out on the road where folks get to join this popular public radio’s lively show about language for a fantastic evening! Slang, dialect, etymology, language change, new words, and a whole lot more are on the agenda. Martha and Grant will explore the amazing oddities of English, from the very old to the very new — plus host a language Q&A where you can find out what you’ve always wanted to know. You’ll come away enlightened and inspired! These events are packed, lively occasions filled with language-y wows, linguisticky goodness, and bookish goofing around. Martha and Grant have already wowed them with packed houses in New York City, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, Dallas, San Diego, Arcata, California, and Portland, Oregon.
I was able to catch up with Martha and Grant ahead of the March 7th event being held at the University of Wisconsin’s Union Theater’s Shannon Hall. We paint a little picture of what someone who has never been to a live “A Way with Words” event or someone who has no idea what the show is about, can expect. We talk a little bit about the fun times to be had by the entire room and some of the challenges Martha and Grant face while performing in a live setting as opposed to being in the comforts of the studio. For me personally, this show is so much about community building and adding steps to the bridge to one another, so we talk a little about how this show unites and is a source of connection for so many who may not otherwise think they have walked down similar paths. The truth is, whether live or on the radio or in a podcasted format, “A Way with Words” brings the cool nerd out of all of us, so maybe it’s time to let your inner nerd find some commonality with a word.