What Listeners Say

“We really enjoy your podcasts on our road trips. My oldest son just finished his freshman year in Helena, MT. So we have a 9-hour drive each way and we love listening to the words and conversation from your show. Thanks to you, I’m helping pass along the fun of language to my youngest who just finished his freshman year of high school.” — Seattle, Washington


“What I like is how diverse the topics are.”
“We often listen as a family, especially if we’re outside in the yard with the radio on. We have a son in 8th grade, and he loves the show, too. What I like is how diverse the topics are, and how incredibly knowledgeable you and Grant are about language, expressions, and the sources and meanings of words. Your show really communicates how colorful and diverse the use of language is in America— we’re all speaking the same language, just not exactly!” — McKinleyville, California


“I wanted to share the inspiration you brought into my life. A few weeks ago, you nonchalantly used the phrase ‘linguistic heirloom.’ I really fell in love with the idea that language is passed from generation to generation, and that linguistic heirlooms are in some ways gifts or treasures to be carried on, taken care of, and even intentionally shared.

“It is far more than just people loving words. It’s also loving people, relationships, and the things that we all share in common.”
“I sent off an email to my 77-year-old grandma, asking her to write down any words or turns of phrase that she used to hear from her parents or relatives growing up. I think she loved having the chance just as much as I had in hearing her relive the memories and the relationships. It was a great opportunity to connect with her and have something to ‘inherit.’”

“It is far more than just people loving words. It’s also loving people, relationships, and the things that we all share in common.” —Edmond, Oklahoma


“I so appreciate your show, find solace, encouragement and joy in learning about language and the journey it takes us through time and place.”
“I discovered your show about a year ago and listen to it every chance I get. I am 74, a retired imaging research technician, poet, and self taught artist. I am also a moderate to severe stutterer. Because of my speech impediment, I value the written word beyond measure. Without the opportunity writing gives me to express myself clearly and fluently, life would be less tolerable than it is. I so appreciate your show, find solace, encouragement and joy in learning about language and the journey it takes us through time and place.” — Indianapolis, Indiana


“Thank you for sharing your skill and knowledge, and for the lighthearted and entertaining reminders of what a beautiful thing language can be.” — San Diego, California


“Your love and passion for the subject comes out during the program. It is almost infectious!!”
“Your show is fun, informative, educational, etc. But what tops all these is how much you enjoy this subject. Your love and passion for the subject comes out during the program. It is almost infectious!! I used to have my children listen to this as another example of being passionate about something and enjoying doing that. You are a big example and role model in that.” — Chennai, India


“I can’t express how happy I am to find your podcasts on the Internet. I have downloaded and listened to 10 and I love them. I am also going to tell my advanced students about your website and podcasts, so very soon there may be more of us.” —Warsaw, Poland


What Educators Say

“It’s one of the best things on public radio.”
“Even to someone who has spent his professional life thinking about language, it’s astonishing how much there is to say about the subject, and how masterful A Way with Words has been at saying it. Week after week, the show comes up with informative and lively material, without either slipping into pedantry and pontification the way linguists are apt to do or stooping to teeth-gnashing about the decline of English that’s the staple of the woe-is-we grammar snobs.

“It’s one of the best things on public radio.”

— Geoffrey Nunberg, Professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Information, and linguistics commentator on NPR’s Fresh Air.


“It provides our students with a fantastic resource and opens up a world of opportunities for lifelong learning.”
A Way with Words offers a fantastic opportunity to bring issues of vocabulary, grammar, and usage to the general public. I have been a devoted listener for the last three years, and feel that it makes a tremendous contribution to public radio.

“As President of the State University of New York at Potsdam, I am so pleased that the program is available both on air, via our local NPR station, and as a podcast. It provides our students with a fantastic resource and opens up a world of opportunities for lifelong learning.”

— John F. Schwaller, President, State University of New York-Potsdam


A Way with Words explores the multifaceted landscape of America through language. In their engaging interactions with callers, the co-hosts present a remarkable program that connects listeners with the original meanings of words, the cultural nuances of dialects, and the twists and turns of contemporary slang. The students in our colleges represent diverse backgrounds, and it is important for them to understand the multicultural heritage of the nation.

A Way with Words celebrates the extraordinary mosaic of America through the medium of language.”

— Constance M. Carroll, Chancellor, San Diego Community College District


“The hosts introduce some much-needed good sense and good humor into the often tiresome squabbles over good and bad English.”
A Way with Words is the rarest of treats for language lovers: a lively and popular program that engages with the English language in a serious way. Too often linguaphiles are forced to choose between dry-as-dust scholars and ill-informed ranters. Barnette and Barrett, though, never fail to entertain their language-loving listeners, and they bring to the job solid backgrounds in the classical languages and English lexicography. They jump effortlessly from deponent verbs to ‘muffin tops,’ from corpus linguistics to crossword puzzles, and along the way they offer amusing and learned meditations on the differences between nerds and geeks.

“The program’s format lets a smart lay audience ask questions and gives experts a chance to talk to the wider world. And the hosts introduce some much-needed good sense and good humor into the often tiresome squabbles over good and bad English.”

—Jack Lynch, Professor of English, Rutgers University

Read what radio program directors have to say.