Why is the hockey team called Maple Leafs not Maple Leaves?

Because I’m a subeditor. We live for this kind of stuff, and we know that when we stuff it up we’re going to get a bunch of letters from outraged pedants. :wink:

I mean, the Montreal Canadiens I can handle - they’re from a francophone city - and I know that Andrew Lloyd Webber doesn’t have a hyphen, but his title, Lord Lloyd-Webber, does. That stuff is easy. :rolleyes:

But Maple Leafs?

Cuz that’s the way Conn Smythe wanted it.

cause it sounds better…literally. i remember watching some documentary with my candian friend and the namer-guy said that leafs sounded better than leaves…so thats what he went with…

It’s emphysising the singular leafs that make up the team rather than just bunching the whole team as leaves. Best I could come up with…

Yeah, but why isn’t it Minnesota Timberwolfs?

Personally, constructions like “Curt Schilling is now a Boston Red Sox” always set my teeth on edge.

Actually, there’s a good reason. Steven Pinker, the famous
MIT linguistics professor, spends a few pages in one of his books
explaining why “Maple Leafs” is correct, and more natural, than “Maple
Leaves” in this context. It’s the same reason that we say that a
baseball player “flied” out when he hits a pop fly, and not that he
“flew” out, even though the normal past tense of “fly” is “flew”.

The idea is this: If an irregular word is removed enough from its
original meaning, often by going through different parts of speech, or
by becoming part of a larger unit, it tends to become regular.

In this context, a Maple Leaf is not a leaf at all; it’s a type of
person. So it loses its connection with the irregular word “leaf”.
Another way to put it is that it’s the whole phrase “Maple Leaf” which
carries the meaning; it is no longer the noun “leaf” modified by the
adjective “maple”. And noun phrases cannot be irregular.

In the case of “flied” out, that comes from the noun phrase “a fly
ball”. When the verb “to fly” is made into part of a noun, and then
reconverted into a verb, it becomes regular.

Another example Pinker gives: If I were to say, “That person is a real Mickey Mouse”, meaning that I think he’s stupid, how would I make the sentence plural?

If I said, “Those people are real Mickey Mice”, it sounds very strange. It’s more natural to say, “Those people are real Mickey Mouses”.

This isn’t because of some rule of grammar. It’s (according to Pinker) because of the way the brain handles language.


I wrote in this thread:

Actually, I think suranyi explained it better.

Also, using irregular forms of a word, or odd spellings, varies it from the normal word, and makes it rather unique. That makes it easier to get Trademark or Copyright protection on it, and makes it easier to show infringment.

Thus for example,the cerial named "Froot Loops"™ rather than the common “Fruit Loops”.

My wife goes to highlight her hair, does it get highlighted or hilit? And why doesn’t the same rule apply when one’s talking about greenlighting a movie?

Of course, the real bizzare twist to this convention regarding unusual uses of otherwise usual noun phrases is that the team can often be referred to now as the “Leafs”, rather than the “Maple Leafs”. Thus, the announcer might say, “The Leafs are pushing up ice,” or “the Leafs are offside.” More often the latter than us fans might like. :frowning:

Come on. One of the basic rules of copyediting is that when it comes to a proper name, the spelling and pronuciation of the person involved is what you follow, regardless of anything else. If e.e. cummings eschews capitals, you write his name that way, no matter what normal usage and grammar says.

Because the Timberwolves decided to use the normal plural. There’s no connection between their decision and Torontos. Why do they have to follow the same rule as the Leafs?

Talk about foolish consistency. :rolleyes:

Plus, the niggling fact that Froot Loops do not, in fact, contain fruit. They contain froot, or manmade flavorings and unnatural colors. :wink:

Got any Cheez Whiz?

Oh yeah, I’m not suggesting otherwise. In fact this question arose because I was correcting someone else’s mistake in some copy I was working on. (They had spelt it “Maple Leaves”, which immediately flagged up an “I’m sure that’s not right” warning in my head.)

I was just curious, and thought there might be an interesting story behind the unusual spelling. It seems that there isn’t.

PS The “e. e. cummings” thing is debatable. See links here.

I would sack whoever spelt it Maple Leaves. Thay obviously have a screw missing.

Well, non-Canadians might not have such a fanatical knowledge of all things hockey. How many Torontonians would be able reliably to spell “Middlesbrough” or “Gaziantepspor”?

Or “they”. :wink:

Dammit. :smack: No chance of a job then m8? :smiley:

Real hockey fans don’t dwell on such things.

Real hockey fans say, “Dee Toronto Maple Leaf are on TV tonight”.

No “S”.

“…and remember when day used to play dee Quebec Nordique?”

Are those the guys that play in Make Believe Garden? :wink:

For what it’s worth, I always thought that it referred to the Canadian flag, which bears a single maple leaf. But that doesn’t make sense since the Leafs exist since 1926 (renamed from the “St. Pats”), and the flag was adopted in 1964. Still, the former flag (the “Red Ensign”) contained the coat of arms which bore three maple “leafs”. The song “Maple Leaf Forever”, composed in 1867, the year of confederation, was an unofficial national anthem in English Canada. The Maple Leaf had been a Canadian symbol for a long time.

So, when Conn Smythe renamed the St. Pats in 1926, he was thinking of the Maple Leaf, the symbol, not the things that hang from trees and are scattered on the ground in November, aka maple leaves.

Check Wikipedia for cite, articles on the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Maple Leaf, and the Canadian Flag.