The Historical Origin Of "the Finger"

  1. This is not meant to be crude. It is strictly for your edification and enjoyment. 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." 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!"

    Over the years, some 'folk etymologies' have grown up around this symbolic gesture. Since 'pluck yew' is rather difficult to say (like "pleasant mother pheasant plucker", which is who you had to go to for the feathers used on the arrows for the longbow), 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 that the symbolic gesture is known as "giving the bird."

    Are you not thrilled that you have someone out there that will send you educational stuff like this?
  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   Shamrock
    :chuckle :chuckle :chuckle
  4. by   Ted
    :chuckle :roll :chuckle

    I especially like these words:

    . . . . labiodental fricative . . . .

    I love them!

    What do they mean????

    Great story, though. Thanks for the info!

  5. by   Flynurse
    Very informative and hilarious!
  6. by   donmurray
    Point of clarification; The index finger draws (pulls) on the bowstring above the nock of the arrow, and the middle (and sometimes third) finger(s) draw below it. The English version of the story features both the index and middle fingers being threatened, and waved, as this matches the two-fingered English form of the "salute"
    Loved the "folk etymology"! Roflmao
  7. by   kimmicoobug
    I am going to have to forward this to my freinds...too funny not to.
  8. by   fab4fan
    Sorry...another urban legend.

    "Pluck you"
  9. by   gwenith
    Strange - SBS (Special Broadcasting Services) over here had an excellent documentary on the Battle of Agincourt. Don Maurray's version was closer than Betts but they too maintained that the two finger gesture dated from this time.

    I read the site you posted fabfourfan and there were several hisoric inconsistancies. The British bowen were feared as bowmen - not as fighters because of two reasons.

    The first was that the bow they used was actually a laminated bow and was so powerful that it could and did pierce armour. It had a longer reach than the French bows.

    Second - the English bowmen were under royal edict to practice archery and hold contests on a regular basis so Henry had a large army of not only better equipped bowmen but more skilled bowmen.

    I can see that there are two sides to this argument - perhaps it is because one version is English and the other is French...........?
  10. by   donmurray
    The English longbow was and is made from a single length of wood, traditionally Yew. Some of the battle bows found in the wreck of Henry's flagship, the "Mary Rose" had a draw-weight of more than 200 pounds. Those weights are nearly impossible to achieve without years of practice, and it was a legal requirement for all Englishmen to attend archery practice every Sunday after church, from childhood onward. This law has never been repealed, but has not been enforced for the last few hundred years!
    Archers were effectively the artillery of their time, striking at the enemy force from relatively long range. A competent archer could have one arrow reaching his target, with a second in the air and a third being released from the bow at the same moment. In a battle situation, accuracy is not vital, just sheer numbers of arrows, some with armour-piercing points, others with broadheads to cut and maim men, and horses, which themselves if hit, would rear and thrash, killing or injuring the men-at arms around them. Those arrows which did not find a target, stuck into the ground, often thickly enough to make walking through them difficult.
    Most older English village churchyards have a Yew tree to this day grown within the enclosure to protect the tree from the village livestock, and some of the livestock from the tree.
    I still thought it was funny!
  11. by   gwenith
    Don Murray - so did I.

    I said it was a laminate becaause I remember in the program ( it was a BBC documentary) the researchers saying that recent research had shown that the longbow was not one piece of wood but a laminate and that was why it was so strong.

    I WISH I could remember the name of that darn program!!!
  12. by   funnygirl_rn
    Good one!
  13. by   betts
    HELLO!!! Was intended to be humourous......sheesh

  14. by   Huq
    The Battle of Agincourt was the first time that the long bow was used. Prior to this, the far less effective cross bow was used.

    The French army was well rested and numbered almost three times as many men as the English who, not only outnumbered, had marched for several days with little food or sleep. The surprise of the far more accurate long bow gave Henry the victory.