Language Podcasts

Podcasting is new medium of sorts and there are several podcasts about language that are worth taking a look at. I say, “of sorts,” because at its heart podcasting isn’t much different from radio. The method of transmission is different and the barrier to entry has been significantly lowered—enabling almost anyone to create their own podcasts—but it’s still just an aural communication medium.

The following are some language-oriented podcasts that you should check out. All are free and all are available via iTunes, as well as separately through their websites.

The first is A Way With Words, by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett. This is, in fact, a radio show on KPBS in San Diego that is made available over the web. The hour-long show is produced weekly. Martha and Grant take caller questions about words and language and there are regular features with puzzles and quizzes. Professionally done, this show has very high production values and is extremely engaging and entertaining. It was threatened with cancellation due to public radio budget cuts earlier in the year, but that scare has passed and new shows should start appearing soon.

Another is Podictionary by Charles Hodgson. A daily show, usually under five minutes, it is also available in a longer, weekly wrap-up that contains all the shows for that week. Each episode features a word, with Hodgson discussing its history and usage. A great, daily, quick language fix.

A third show worth looking into is The Word Nerds, by brothers Dave and Howard Shepherd and Howard Chang, secondary school teachers all. This one appears every three weeks or so and runs about 45 minutes. Each episode is a discussion centered on a particular linguistic theme. Recent themes have included nicknames, public speaking, and small talk.

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