Saturday, November 14, 2009

The History for the Middle Finger

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 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.'


Friend of mind from UL told me that there are some more explanation on this "One Finger Salute"

The origins of this gesture are highly speculative, but is quite possibly 2500 years old. It is identified as the digitus impudicus ('impudent finger') in Ancient Roman writings and reference is made to using the finger in the Ancient Greek comedy The Clouds by Aristophanes . It was defined there as a gesture intended to insult another. It has been noted that the gesture resembles an erect penis .

Ancient Romans also considered an image of an erect phallus as a talisman against evil spells. As a consequence, displaying this gesture to another may not have been a pseudo-sexual insult but rather an insulting statement along the lines of – "I'm going to protect myself against your witchcraft , before you even start;" but an even earlier reference is made to ancient farmers using this finger to test hens for coming eggs.

Which one is corret? let you to decide.

Well, in all cases, this is not too polite and why we have to use this to insult others?


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