Flimsy Sanity: Interesting Trivia

Flimsy Sanity

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Interesting Trivia

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!

UPDATE: False according to Snopes - thanks BeyondKen. My apologies for not checking, I can't tell you how many times I have referred e-mailers to Snopes when they sent some trash and I am embarrassed about being such a dupe. I liked this one and heck, it used the impressive word "labiodental". Even more humiliating, it is from 1999 - nearly ten years old. So much for being up to date.


  • At 9:47 AM, Blogger Elaine Saunders - Complete Text said…

    According to a bowman giving a display at Warwick Castle, England, this gesture is also known as the "Agincourt salute".

    Accounts say that the arrows fell so thick and fast at Agincourt that it was like a snow-storm. Skilled archers fired at 12-15 arrows a minute and often dirtied the arrow heads so that even a minor scratch could cause deadly infection.

    Turbulent times!

    Elaine Saunders
    Author - A Book About Pub Names

  • At 5:12 AM, Anonymous R J Adams said…

    I might have guessed we Brits would be to blame.

  • At 9:45 AM, Blogger BeyondKen said…


  • At 10:12 AM, Blogger Nader Enthusiast said…

    Beyond Ken: Wow, I am red-faced. I liked it because I often would like to say it to people and this gave me a chance to divorce it from the sexual thing. Damn.


Post a Comment

<< Home