ASK MISTER LANGUAGE PERSON
Dear Mr. Barry,
I need help from Mr. Language Person. I am a grammar stickler and sports fan. Can you explain references to "The Toronto Maple Leafs"? I would like to know why the team members are not called "Leaves." Thank you.
Dear Christine --
The answer is actually quite fascinating. As you are no doubt aware if you have visited Wikipedia and used the cut-and-paste function, Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae, or (together with the Hippocastanaceae) included in the family Sapindaceae. Modern classifications, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification, favour inclusion in Sapindaceae. Also, the hockey community does not contain a lot of rocket scientists in the grammar department. I hope this clears everything up.
Mr. Language Person