DEAR MISS MANNERS: We all know that pointing is impolite, but could you clarify: does this pointing include all pointing or just pointing at people (or where it may be perceived that one is pointing at a person)? In other words, is it acceptable to point at the lamp on the mantle or a difficult-to-pronounce or unknown word on a menu?
GENTLE READER: This rule is designed to protect against "Oops, they're talking about me" and "Would you mind getting your finger away from my eye?" In other words, it only prohibits pointing to or toward people. Miss Manners would like to point out that it is not wrong to point as an accompaniment to "That lamp is about to fall off the mantle piece!" or "I'll have that for dessert, but I'm not even going to try to pronounce it."