Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Language’

Postscript to the demise of grammar…

January 26, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Language 1 Comment →

Dragonsnake Bog in Dagobah

Last Thursday we were writing a review of Blackhat for our column at InterAksyon when we went off course as we often do, and by following the detour, ended up with a column about the enforcement of the rules of grammar at our old and much-missed newspaper, TODAY. The second paragraph started like this:

This grammatical challenge reminded me that when I was writing for TODAY, I witnessed a smackdown between two eminent editors of advanced age. They differed on whether Yakuza was capitalized or not, like Mafia or mafia. To buttress their positions they consulted the many dictionaries and manuals of style in the office library.

The column went online on Friday. Today our editor Chuchay informed us that on Friday night, one of those two grammar enforcers, Manny Benitez, died. We had not been in touch for many years.

Our condolences to Mr Benitez’s family.

We still haven’t figured out whether we’re clairvoyant or do long-range psychokinetic strikes. Time for a trip to the Dagobah system.

Is krungkrung hyphenated?

January 23, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: History, Language, The Workplace 4 Comments →

Our friend Noel sent us a video report that could very well be the definition of krungkrung. Then he asked something that, in our universe, is a vital question: Is krungkrung hyphenated? Krungkrung or krung-krung?

Read our column at


December 27, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Language No Comments →


“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 →