Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Language’

“Just use a viler cheeriness.”

November 24, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Contest, Language No Comments →

medieval flying cat
Medieval rocket cat via io9.

The title of this post is not just an anagram of “Jessica Rules the Universe”, it also sums up our world-view. Anagrams, we love them, they point out hidden meanings. We thought of doing an anagram LitWit Challenge, then we remembered how many free anagram generators there are on the net. While wasting time on the Internet Anagram Server, we discovered these anagrams for the name of our site:

A recessive sleuth injures
Eviscerates slushier June
Injures shirtless evacuee
Ace heresies sliver unjust
Jet uses sushi irrelevance
Eeriest slur shuns jive ace
Ace juvenile hires trusses

You can come up with band names this way. We found over 50,000 anagrams for our cat’s name, Matthias Urban, including Maharani Butts and Trauma Absinth.

We’ll have to think of another LitWit Challenge so we can give away this fresh new hardcover of The Bone Clocks.

We’ve also updated our official bio.

The hearty quiche and the saucy menu

October 28, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Food, Language, Places, Traveling 12 Comments →


We expected to pass out any minute from jet lag, so we had dinner in the neighborhood. Our friend took us to a restaurant called L’été en pente douce. Meaning “Summer on a gentle slope”—slope, as in the side of the hill, which requires climbing these stairs. (A second flight of stairs takes you to the basilica of Sacre Coeur. A week or so of this and we should have quads of steel.)


The restaurant serves a very good quiche, which is a meal in itself. We had champagne, this being our welcome dinner. A glass of champagne is only slightly costlier than 6 ounces of Coke. Around here Coke is more expensive than the house wine, so have the wine.

Even before the quiche arrived, we were royally entertained by the menu, in French and English versions.

ass of summer

According to various translation apps, the title means “the pot-gossip of summer” or “the pewter-pot summer”, but according to a native it could also be interpreted as “the ass of summer”.

personal of room

The translations, though perhaps overly literal, sound very grand. The French menu even asks: “Do you have an emptiness?” Why do restaurants back home never ask us existential questions?

dry so very dry

Who could resist “a dry wine, so very dry for a muscat that it causes raised eyebrows among wine connoisseurs”?

We were so fascinated by the menu that we had to ask for a copy. The waiter feigned hurt and said, “If you’re just going to laugh at it…” but we assured him that it was the laughter of genuine admiration. The menu doesn’t just offer specials, it proposes them. (“We are the only restaurant to offer this” becomes “We are the unique restaurant to propose this.”)

montmartre cat

Outside, a cat waited to be served.

W-ORD News with Cookie Monster and John Oliver

September 03, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Language No Comments →

Weird Al, Grammar Police

July 17, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Language, Music No Comments →

“Police”, singular, like they used it in The Wire. A show we loved just a few years ago, which now feels like the distant past.

Thanks to Ricky for the alert.

Somewhere Marvin Gaye is laughing.

Yes, we do judge people by their grammar.

December 31, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Language, The Workplace 2 Comments →

Read How To Use An Apostrophe in The Oatmeal.

I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar.
by Kyle Wiens in the HBR blogs
(Please, we don’t even admit their comments. Fine, most of their comments.)

If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building.

Some might call my approach to grammar extreme, but I prefer Lynne Truss’s more cuddly phraseology: I am a grammar “stickler.” And, like Truss — author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves — I have a “zero tolerance approach” to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid.

Now, Truss and I disagree on what it means to have “zero tolerance.” She thinks that people who mix up their itses “deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave,” while I just think they deserve to be passed over for a job — even if they are otherwise qualified for the position.

Everyone who applies for a position at either of my companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test. Extenuating circumstances aside (dyslexia, English language learners, etc.), if job hopefuls can’t distinguish between “to” and “too,” their applications go into the bin.

Thanks to Ricky for the link.


December 12, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Language No Comments →

This entry by Leo Abaya.