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Sunday, July 09, 2006
History of the Middle Finder
(From Pamela, our correspondent in Bay Ridge.)
I love history! LOL 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
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."
IT IS STILL AN APPROPRIATE SALUTE TO THE FRENCH TODAY!
And yew thought yew knew every plucking thing!
Editor's note: This was an interesting story, but the history of the middle finger may go further back in history. The ancient Romans called the middle finger "digitus impudens"...the impudeent digit. The middle finger salute may have ancient origins.