The Secret Life of the English Language: Buttering Parsnips, Twocking Chavs : "Fine words butter no parsnips" is an expression dating back 400 years. Twocking and chav are popular new arrivals in the ever-growing vocabulary of British slang. What do words and phrases like these have in common, and what sets them apart? That's what this fascinating book sets out to explore. Along the way, it illuminates the whole process of word formation and proliferation. How are new words and phrases born? What's special about the ones that enter common usage? How do mistakes and jokes affect a word's career? Why do some words die, never to be used again? With examples ranging from Shakespeare to text messaging, this is a browsable collection rich with amusing quotations, unusual anecdotes, and clever wordplay.