In the years that we’ve been working together, we have developed a mutual understanding about our obligations as hosts of a growing national show.
That understanding has many parts, but at the core of it are three basic ideas:
- It’s not about us. It’s about other people.
- Treating people with humanity is a part of really knowing how language works.
- Language and respect — language and fairness — language and justice — they’re all tied together.
This document elaborates on those points. We put it together with each other, the board of our nonprofit, our staff, and through interactions with listeners. Everyone who works or volunteers for Wayword, Inc., and A Way with Words is included.
It’s about who we really are — or who we strive to be as we constantly work to improve ourselves, our radio program, and our communities.
One way to show us that you endorse these ideas — that you can get behind them and help us change the way the world thinks about language and the way it communicates — is to support the show with a donation. Even one dollar more moves everyone closer to the goal.
Together we can be a voice for respect, fairness, and justice.
Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett
co-hosts of A Way with Words
Wayword, Inc., through the radio show and podcast of A Way with Words, through live events, and through its online presence, promotes better human communication and understanding. It does this by looking at language through the lenses of family, history, and culture, and by revealing human connections across eras, generations, cultures, and languages.
When we succeed in our work, we help normalize an appreciation for kind, fair, and learned communication. When we succeed, we also encourage an appreciation of literacy and education that pushes back against ignorance and intolerance.
Wayword, Inc., including its board members, staff, volunteers, and the hosts of A Way with Words, know that words and language are powerful tools.
They believe that if each person tries to perfect their understanding of language and how it is used, we will all understand each other better, we will learn to respect other identities and worldviews, and we will more successfully avoid conflict.
They also believe that talking about language should be, at the minimum, about appreciating the variety of its possibilities.
They disempower discussions of language that are in actuality disguised racism, sexism, genderism, classism, elitism, ethnocentrism, parochialism, ageism, and other biases, and they teach others to do the same.
They empower language discussions that use empathy, data, context, and history, and that teach people to have a more complete understanding of a few basic traits of language:
- All users of a language, in simply using that language, control its present and future.
- What we think of as right or standard in a language is often culturally and socially directed, changes over time, and is often not intrinsic to the language itself.
- Language change and variation are normal, useful, and interesting.
- Language’s power to hurt or heal differs depending on when and where it is used, and by whom.
They believe that when it comes to language, we should consider it as scientists do, discuss it as friends, and explain it as storytellers.
Posted May 30, 2018, but in development for more than a decade.
If you’d like to talk about what we believe and how we’re changing the world, please reach out to Grant Barrett, Wayword, Inc., executive director and A Way with Words co-host, at firstname.lastname@example.org (646) 286-2260.