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The Story of the Middle Finger

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Everyone knows what the giving the finger is all about. However, did you ever know the origin of the gesture. Read on

STORY 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 weapon 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!

"PLUCK YEW!"

Since pluck yew is rather difficult to say, the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodental 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 everything

Created by admin
Last modified Thursday, Dec-23-2004 04:16 PM

Re: Fingers

Posted by mikehoy at Wednesday, Jan-11-2006 12:33 PM
The French apparently only cut off the middle finger of AMERICAN archers in the 15th Century! For ENGLISH archers, they cut off the forefinger as well, hence the traditional English 2-fingered salute.

The actual origin of the American single "finger" gesture has more to do with bodily insertions than bows and arrows.
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