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stop me if you've heard this one-

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From:	"Margaret O'Brien", INTERNET:mob(--nospam--at)icess.ucsb.edu
TO:	(unknown), INTERNET:LBPeep(--nospam--at)netcom.com
	(unknown), INTERNET:midified(--nospam--at)aol.com
	(unknown), INTERNET:pobrien(--nospam--at)cellnet.com
	(unknown), wildwoman1
CC:	(unknown), INTERNET:mob(--nospam--at)icess.ucsb.edu
DATE:	4/17/98 3:07 PM

RE:	stop me if you've heard this one-

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Subject: stop me if you've heard this one- 
Date: Fri, 17 Apr 1998 12:07:02 -0700
From: "Margaret O'Brien" <mob(--nospam--at)icess.ucsb.edu>

and apologies to anyone trying to work on this <beautiful> friday afternoon-
Just an interesting bit of etymology.  You anglophiles probably already know this.
-MOB

=============
A radio talk show has a feature called the "Puzzler", and their most
recent "Puzzler" was about the Battle of Agincourt. The French, who were
overwhelmingly favored to win the battle, threatened to cut a certain body
part off of all captured English soldiers so that they could never fight
again. The English won in a major upset and waved the body part in question
at the French in defiance.

The "Puzzler" was: What was this body part? The following answer was
submitted by a listener:

Dear Puzzler,
Thank you for the Agincourt "Puzzler", which clears up some profound
questions of etymology, folklore and emotional symbolism. The body part
which the French proposed to cut off of the English after defeating them
was, of course, the middle finger, without which it is impossible to draw
the renowned English longbow. This famous weapon was made of the native
English yew tree, and so the act of drawing the longbow was known as
"plucking the yew".

Thus, when the victorious English waved their middle fingers at the defeated
French, they said, "See, we can still pluck the 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), 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 thought yew knew everything.

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