Snobbish -e (was [vaz]/[ves])

Peter McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Tue Apr 27 16:36:07 UTC 1999

As a matter of fact, I thought for years that there was an actual

theatre = the institution of the "legitimate stage" (usually with "the")
theater = a building where movies are shown

(Come to think of it, I guess I wasn't sure which spelling to use for
"building where live plays are performed.")

At some point I checked a dictionary for confirmation of my
understanding, and found none.

And veering still further from [vaz]/[ves], and even from

In and around the tony Portland suburb of Lake Oswego, there are
several subdivisions, office park developments, etc. that are called
"[Something] Pointe."  The only actual example I can remember is a
development overlooking the Willamette River which at least used to be
called "Oswego Pointe," but there are others. I'm not sure whether
these names are meant to look French, or whether the analogy is with
"Ye Olde Tea Shoppe."  The places in question are neither French nor
old, quaint and English in appearance.  The "pointe" of tacking on the
-e is obviously to confer status, but I'm not quite sure why it works.
Has anybody collected other examples?

Peter McGraw

On Tue, 27 Apr 1999 08:32:48 -0700 Peter Richardson
<prichard at> wrote:

> > American innovation.  Was it French influence (or French by way of
> British) > that fostered the snobbish distinction in the U.S.?
> I suspect so, yes--but I hope I'm not falling into the Twainian pit
> of blaming so much on the French.
> Speaking of affectations, has this list ever discussed the insistence of
> theater programs in this country on spelling theater as if it
> were theatre? I once sent a memo to a friend in our theater department
> with the last two letters of each word reversed; he was amused, but I
> doubt all would be.
> Peter Richardson

Peter A. McGraw
Linfield College
McMinnville, Oregon
pmcgraw at

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