The North American Frontiersmen





Editor - Staff Writer

   Smoke Signals

                   Mar./Apr. '09



The History of the Middle Finger
When we where involved in another group there seemed to always be some problem coming up that would make several of use hand jesters. Our own Mr. Thompson was very fast to do so as tempers rose several degrees. That said, I by accident found some interesting facts about such actions.

Recently a friend sent me this information about one universal hand sign. Well, now ...... here's something I did not remember or possibly never knew before, and now that I know it, I felt compelled to send it on to my more learned  friends in the hope that they, too, will feel informed.

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.'

IT IS STILL AN APPROPRIATE SALUTE TO THE FRENCH EVEN TODAY! And yew thought yew knew every plucking thing.


Buck Conner



Page 9



updated  03/10/2009   

This website may not be reproduced in part or in whole without the written permission of the North American Frontiersmen.

All Rights Reserved, Copyrighted 2005-2009.