Saturday, August 18, 2007

Who Says Etymology Isn't Sexy?

All right, I realize that I may crash the server with so much babeliciousness in just one blog entry, but I've been meaning to post this shot of tennis star Maria Sharapova and me from the Acura Tennis Classic a couple of weeks ago.

Here she is asking me about a word origin, and I'm giving her a few pointers to fine-tune her serve -- which may be why she won the tournament.

(Okay, so she didn't need my help. But I had you going for a second there, didn't I?) She was also kind enough to auction off one of her rackets for several thousand dollars while I was emceeing the tournament's fundraiser to fight breast cancer, so good on her for that, too.

A Bouncing Baby @ !

According to news reports, a Chinese couple is trying to name their new baby boy "@." It had to happen, right? Reuters says:

"The whole world uses it to write e-mail, and translated into Chinese it means 'love him'," the father explained, according to the deputy chief of the State Language Commission Li Yuming.

While the "@" simple is familiar to Chinese e-mail users, they often use the English word "at" to sound it out -- which with a drawn out "T" sounds something like "ai ta", or "love him", to Mandarin speakers.

What do you think? Voice your opinion at the new "A Way with Words" discussion forum!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Yakkity-Yak -- Do Talk Back!

I'm so psyched! For years now, I've been aching for an "A Way with Words" discussion forum, where we could continue some of the conversations we begin on the show. Each week after our show airs, we get so many eloquent, insightful, and entertaining letters from you. And we haven't had anyplace to share all those wonderful thoughts (not to mention when you call or write to correct us).

Well, now you can not only respond to those shows, ask questions, start new conversations -- AND make yourself heard to a worldwide audience. Check out the new "A Way with Words" discussion forum at And don't be shy about expressing yourself -- that's what it's there for!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Pomma Pomma Pomma Pomma Pomma Pommeleon

Does English grammar really need a pomma point? I don't think so, and I told the Chicago Tribune's Nathan Bierma so here.

What do you think? Do we need a punctuation mark for expressing "mild joy, vague happiness or heightened indifference"? Help me out here -- is this a Canadian thing?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Scoop on "A Way with Words"

Actually, my brilliant co-host Grant Barrett said it all so well that anything else I might write at this point would be a waste of pixels. Thanks, Grant!

We Raised $256,000!

In the fight against breast cancer, that is, during the Acura Classic Tennis tournament this week, where I emceed their fundraiser for the Scripps Polster Breast Care Center here in San Diego. Hooray for all those who contributed $256,000 that night. And kudos to the tournament, for ensuring that every single cent of it will go directly to the fight against that disease.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Decision-Making in Public Radio

For those who remain gobsmacked about KPBS's sudden decision to cancel production of the show, there's some pretty darned interesting discussion of it on one of the KPBS blogs, in which General Manager Doug Myrland tries to explain his reasoning and how decisions are made at the station.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Special Note to "A Way with Words" Listeners

You can read the news about KPBS suspending production of "A Way with Words" in the San Diego Union-Tribune. This was part of a massive layoff at the station.

The good news is that Grant and I are already in talks with other radio outlets and potential sponsors who see a bright future for our show’s distribution at the national level.

So I’m sure “A Way with Words” will land well, although of course I’m saddened for our local audience. In the end, as we added podcast listeners and other stations around the country, it seems that continuing to serve our growing national (and international) audience became too much for KPBS to handle.

(In fact, I’ve been spending the summer digging through and trying to answer hundreds of emails we’ve received from ardent listeners around the country and around the world. Sorry if I haven't gotten to yours yet, but honestly, I'm doing my best!)

Meanwhile, I’m very happy to report that my brilliant co-host Grant already has our new “A Way with Words” website up and running. Stop by there and sign up for our email list, which will keep you informed about what we're up to and where "A Way with Words" will land.

Check it out, and let us know what you think. And if you want to let KPBS know how you feel about their decision, call 619-594-1515 or email Doug Myrland directly at

And thanks again for your continued support of intelligent radio for passionate lovers of language.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Wayword Radio

More anon, but for now, just know that the "A Way with Words" team is hard at work on some exciting new developments.

So, stay tuned -- and keep those cards and letters comin'! Thanks!