Spelling rage

Passed on by Edith Maxwell on Facebook, this New Yorker cartoon by Jack Ziegler:

Misspellings on menus have many sources. Many are typos of the simplest sort (inadvertent transpositions, anticipations, perseverations, etc.), and a great many are “ear spellings”, as Ceasar salad probably is here. Some are generalizations from the spelling of other expressions, as the hyphenated osso-buco might be here (cf. chaud-froid).

Some people annoy restaurateurs by writing corrections in on the menus. Others just complain. I have yet to see someone refuse to order a dish because its name was misspelled on the menu, or walk out of a restaurant because of its spelling, but who knows what spelling rage might do to people?

On Jack Ziegler, from the publisher’s description for The Essential Jack Ziegler (2000):

Jack Ziegler is a pivotal figure in the history of contemporary cartooning. An artist who redefined what a gag cartoon can be, he blends the conventions of a comic strip with the traditional format of a one-panel captioned cartoon, giving readers of The New Yorker some of their funniest moments for nearly 30 years. And though his self-stated ambition is modest — “just wanting to be funny” — his editors over the years praise him as a genius with a “touch of madness.” (Balancing that is the opinion, shared by the artist himself, of friend and fellow cartoonist Bill Woodman: “Oh, Jack — he’s just nuts, that’s all.”)

Third in The Essential Cartoonists Library is The Essential Jack Ziegler [2000], joining The Essential George Booth and The Essential Charles Barsotti in respectfully celebrating this unique visual form and its great artists. Compiled and edited by Lee Lorenz, former art editor of The New Yorker, it presents approximately 150 of the artist’s best cartoons, as well as photographs, insight into his background, influences, inspirations, working habits, and the appreciations of fellow cartoonists, including Roz Chast, Mick Stevens, and Bob Mankoff.

A sharp social satirist whose work sneaks up on you, Ziegler offers a deadpan yet bemused portrait of middle America. Everything appears normal-yet of course it’s not. Television comes in by pipeline. “Say, this isn’t so bad,” comes a thought bubble from under a grave. And two dogs suspiciously eye a cat calendar. No idea is too far-fetched, too silly, too pointed-and suddenly you’re laughing out loud.

Ziegler appeared on this blog once before, in a Proust cartoon last month.


4 Responses to “Spelling rage”

  1. beslayed Says:

    I usually don’t even notice unless they’re amusing. I can remember one small restaurant in India whose menu included “wantons”. (And, of course, there are occasional road-side stands offering “tea & snakes”).

  2. chrishansenhome Says:

    Interesting that just a few hours ago HWMBO and I ent out to eat with a friend to a newish restaurant on the other side of the Elephant. I had “Chicken Katsu Curry: Deep fried chicken beast in breadcrumbs…” Took a picture of the menu item and posted it on Instagram.

  3. Stuart Brown Says:

    Less a misspelling than L2 error: the French-themed UK café chain Café Rouge features on its menu the declaration that Nous avons bonnes tables, rather inaccurately pluralizing the generic idiom bonne table, which refers to the quality of the food. Nous avons bonne table would mean “we have good food”; nous avons bonnes tables simply means “we have good tables.”
    I don’t get spelling rage, but I do have a tendency to ask, when being seated, if I could have a good table please, which has drawn a suitable wince on a number of occasions.

  4. Ziegler on toast « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] for information on Ziegler, see this posting with his cartoon on spelling […]

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