Pluck Yew



	On the 'Car Talk' show (on NPR) with Click and Clack, the
	Tappet Brothers have 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?  This is the answer submitted
	by a listener:

	------------------------------------------------------------

	Dear Click and Clack,

	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 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".







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