G. PEPPER HOLLAND, of Mississippi State, Mississippi, writes, "The current tendency—in the South, anyway—to tack an e on point, as in Plantation Pointe, seems as ridiculous to me as Ye Olde Shoppe signs."
I like pointes still less than Ye Olde Shoppes, because at least there's a satisfying explanation for the latter. The Y in Ye originated in an Old English rune called thorn, which signified the sound th although it came to look like a capital Y; thorn persisted into Middle English times. Even then, however, there were no dictionaries to speak of, so people who wanted to spell had to improvise—hence the extra letters in olde and shoppe.
None of this, of course, applies to the contemporary penchant for adding es to the ends of words—which is not exclusively a southern tendency, nor does it afflict only point. I fear that restaurants with the word grille in their names—a word that is supposed to describe ornamental metalwork and the like, as opposed to grill, which properly refers either to a device upon which food is cooked over an open flame or to a restaurant that features food so cooked—are spreading across our land like wildfire. Word Court called the headquarters of the Capital Grille chain, hoping to learn what its founders had had in mind when they named their first restaurant, in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1990. The good sport who got stuck answering the question used the word "elegant" twice and explained, too, that the e was meant to be "a nod toward tradition." That must be Ye olde tradition that fell out of fashion in the seventeenth century, when dictionaries came in.
More to the point is pointe itself. Some few pointes are distinctly French in origin—Grosse Pointe, Michigan, for example, and the ballet term en pointe, meaning "on tiptoe"—and these are hard to fault. But then there are places like your Plantation Pointe, a new development in South Carolina, and three Pointe or Pointe Hilton resorts, in greater Phoenix. The first of these resorts opened in 1976, under the name The Pointe at Squaw Peak, so it was probably on the leading edge of the trend you mention. A representative of the Pointe South Mountain Resort told Word Court cheerfully that the e was used "I suppose to fancy it up." In recent years a public school, Mountain Pointe High School, was built near this latter resort. To come up with the school's name, "we just copied," a spokesperson for the school said. Oh, good.
MICHAEL GOULD, of Portland, Oregon, writes, "Could you please wave your magic wand and make the popular redundant hypersuperlative disappear forever? I've had it up to here with 'the single mostimportant scientific discovery of the century' and 'the single worst disaster in aviation history.'"
I agree with you that single in phrases like your examples adds clutter instead of the emphasis that is surely intended. Unfortunately, nothing short of sorcery is likely to get rid of it. Single most, single worst, and so forth are very common, and I can find only a single, mild objection to them in any of the major usage guides: The New Fowler's Modern English Usage mentions that single most is "in strict terms ... tautologous."
PAT DODDS, of Fresno, California, writes, "I was recently looking up the word Monday in the dictionary with my third-grade students, and we made an amazing discovery. The preferred pronunciation of Monday is 'mun-dee,' with a long-esound, not 'mun-day,' with a long-a sound. I checked other days of the week, and they were all the same: 'sun-dee' and so on. I checked other dictionaries and found the same thing. This doesn't sound right to me. Can you please explain?"
Dictionaries do tend to give both pronunciations, and some newish ones, such as the Encarta and the Oxford American, both from 1999, even put "mun-day" first. As for the long reign of "mun-dee," another correspondent knows more about this than I do, so I will let him explain: Frank G. Nelson, an emeritus professor of English at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, writes, "All my old teachers, from the first grade through my doctorate, and my former-schoolmistress mother before them, insisted that the only acceptable pronunciation of the last syllable in the names of the days of the week was an unstressed '-dy,' as in candy and handy—that to sound it like the 'day' in payday or May Day was a 'spelling pronunciation' used by the imperfectly literate. But that was well over half a century ago, between World War I and World War II. Today it is impossible to turn on the TV or radio without hearing some journalist speak of events happening 'mun-day' or 'thurs-day.'"
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