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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Middle Finger

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

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

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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