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Hey, Ho, West Coast, West Coast!

Howdy, long time no chat! It's another newsletter from A Way with Words.

Well, there are big goings-on here. Besides Martha and Grant gearing up for a season of brand-new shows, Grant just finished a 3000-mile move from New York to the San Francisco Bay Area, meaning Martha and Grant are in the same state now, though still not in the same studio.

Grant and his family are in the lovely town of San Mateo. He'll be broadcasting from the studios of KQED in San Francisco, one of the finest public radio stations in North America.

However, "A Way with Words" isn't yet carried by KQED. Your calls and letters can help make it happen.

Address letters with your variations on "I want A Way with Words!" by fax to (415) 553-2241, by email to fm@kqed.org, by phone to (415) 864-2000 (tell the receptionist you want to speak with someone who handles the radio program schedule), or by postal mail to:


Radio General Manager

2601 Mariposa Street

San Francisco, CA 94110

We've got a spate of online-only minicasts headed your way. Up fresh right now is one about "flannel," as in, "don't give me any of that flannel!"


You can find other recent episodes you might have missed here:


Here's something that ticks us off: Apple decided that a dictionary application for the iPhone was objectionable and removed it from the iPhone application store. Why? It contains offensive words. Never mind that other dictionaries already on the iPhone store contain the same "dirty" words. More about it here:


In our view, all dictionaries for adults should contain these words and if someone is old enough to have an iPhone or an iTouch, then they're old enough to handle these words, too. Besides which, you have to *search* for them to find them. They don't just pop out at you and go "boo!"

"Positive anymore" is a subject we've touched on a few times, but you'll still enjoy Jan Freeman's excellent explanation. She also tackles "assuage" and "consumerism."


Nancy Friedman explains that Twitter's problem is that the company uses the wrong language to talk about the wrong things.


Matthew Shaer at the Christian Science Monitor rips into "Radio Shack" for rebranding itself as "The Shack." Don't they know what "shack" means?


Harvard University has trademarked a number of curious phrases, including "Lessons learned" and "Ask what you can do"--the latter a direct borrowing from a famous speech by John F. Kennedy.


That's all for this week.


Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett

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Further reading

Funny Papers (episode #1601)

There are word nerds, and then there’s the woman who set up a folding chair on sidewalks throughout the country, cheerfully dispensing tips...

Overarching Sentiments

What sort of language is worthy of being inscribed in stone? A frieze on the James A. Farley Building in New York City is inscribed with Neither...

Yummy Slumgullion

Susannah in Aiken, South Carolina, is curious about slumgullion, a word her dad used to denote “gooey baby food” or “goopy oatmeal...

Rebel with a Clause

In 2018, author Ellen Jovin started setting up her folding “Grammar Table” on the streets of New York City, and dispensing helpful advice...

I’ll Let You Go

Heather Coffman sent us a tweet about a helpful way to end a long phone conversation: I’ll let you go so you can glue your ears and legs back...