Within the rambling house of words and language we all too often expect to find doors with forbidding-sounding signs on them: 'Spelling', 'Grammar', 'Syntax', 'Etymology', 'Phonetics' and the like - signs that discourage rather than invite entry. But behind these heavy doors the house of words and language is a place of delight and curiosity: on closer inspection its shelves are revealed to be groaning not with dry and dusty tomes exhorting correctness of grammar and usage but with more toothsome reading-matter: intriguing tales of unexpected word and phrase origins; light-hearted explorations of the pleasures of wordplay; listings of lexical peculiarities, from 'ghost letters' to words that have no rhymes; and accounts and examples of the myriad types of English, from slang to jargon, and from gobbledegook to text messaging. Buttering Parsnips, Twocking Chavs is a guided tour of the English language, arranged in 'seven ages' (chapters), tracing the 'birth' of words (alphabets, word origins, etc.), their youthful playfulness and occasional misdemeanours (word games, misspellings, etc.) and various other stages of language 'life', culminating in death (last words, lost words, etc.) and reincarnation (words that have changed their meaning).
Within each of these chapters clusters of loosely related material are presented in a range of different forms - lists, small passages of narrative text, amusing quotations and nuggets of amazing facts.
Martin H. Manser has been a professional reference book editor since 1980. He has compiled and edited more than 150 reference books, particularly English-language dictionaries, thesauruses and Bible reference titles. He is also a language trainer and consultant with national companies and organisations.
He and his wife live in Aylesbury and have a son and a daughter.