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Giving The Finger George Jaenicke grjaenicke grjaenicke@mindspring.com For all you Trivia Buffs

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 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 are mistakenly thought to
have something to do with an intimate encounter.
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.



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