Monday, June 26, 2006

A History lesson

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!

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".

And yew all thought yew knew everything.

Source unknown


  1. You've got to be pulling my leg...


  2. I thought many use the tall finger to pluck good luck.

  3. That's really interesting, but I have to be a little skeptical since people can't agree on the origins of everyone's favorite F-word. Some sources say it comes from the German word fikken, which means "penetrate" (and is also used by Germans to refer to the same intimate act). Others claim that, in colonial America, young men found guilty of premarital sex were locked in stocks inscribed with the legal explanation "For Using Carnal Knowledge". (Hence the Van Halen album bearing that title.)

    On another note, try saying the following three times quickly:

    I'm not a pheasant plucker,
    I'm a pheasant plucker's son.
    I'm only plucking pheasants
    Till the pheasant plucker comes.

  4. LOL, I enjoyed that! Thanks!!! Pluck Pluck!! Pluckity Pluck!

  5. Anonymous12:39 AM

    LOLz, oh my, is something wrong with our history lessons, i have been mislead to think that it was Fornication Under [the] Control/Consent/Command of the King hahahaha ...

  6. 10Q for the ingrid lessons...:-)

  7. Pandabonium, dunno. My very first history lesson too.

    Joe, the tall finger, eh?

    MM, couldn't say it, three times I mean. Tongue got twisted so badly.
    Thanks for the international history lesson, sort of. Interesting.

    LB, LOL! Pluck Pluck! Pluckity Pluck! the pheasant plucker plucks. Pluck! Pluck! Pluck!

    Slurp! I've heard your version too. It made sense at the time. Confusion! Confusion! I'm getting a headache! Aarrggghhhhhhh.....

    See fei, thank you for attending class. We're all having fun here.

  8. Btw, did you notice the ads on the Yew Bark? One says 'Made-To-Order for superior potency'. Wow! I didn't know Yew has this quality. Intriguing. haha...