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Re: The danger of Long-S's (not for the over-sensitive



Dorothy said:

>  As for the f word.  I recall some linguist friend saying it does come
>from old Germanic, as all good cuss words in English do, but first
>appears in more modern English as a technical word for the mating of
>ducks.

Well, then, there is this historical tidbit:

>In the Battle of Agincourt, the French, who were overwhelmingly favored to
win the battle, threatened to cut off a certain body part of the all captured
>English soldiers so that they could never fight again. The English won in
the battle in a major upset and waved the body part in question at the French
in defiance.
>
>Question:  What was this body part?
>
>Answer:  The body part which the French proposed to cut off of the English
>after defeating them was, of course, the middle finger. Without the middle
>finger 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 yew".  Thus, when the
victorious English waved their middle fingers at the defeated French,
they said, "See, we can still pluck 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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