Monday, March 31, 2008

The History of the Middle Finger

Sent to me by my cousin:

Well,'s something I never knew before, and now that
I know it, I feel compelled to send it on to my more intelligent
friends in the hope that they, too, will feel edified. Isn't history
more fun when you know something about it?

Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating
victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of
all captured English soldiers. Without the middle finger it would
be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and
therefore they would be incapable of fighting in the future. This
famous English longbow was made of the native English Yew
tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as 'plucking
the yew' (or 'pluck yew').

Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major
upset and began mocking the French by waving their middle
fingers at the defeated French, saying, See, we can still pluck
yew! Since 'pluck yew' is rather difficult to say, the difficult
consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a
labiodentals fricative F', and thus the words often used in
conjunction with the one-finger-salute! It is also because of the
pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the
symbolic gesture is known as 'giving the bird.'

And yew thought yew knew every plucking thing.


LabSpecimen said...

Heh heh heh. Funny. I find these things even funnier when they aren't made up. Still, this one made me chuckle.

rita said...

Glad to help, Lab.