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The History of the Middle Finger

Well, now......here' 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. _,___

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