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Pat
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So, why do they call it 'the bird?"
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T_Smith
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Because back in the good old days, Pirates held out their middle finger for a perch for their birds. Those who were being looted started taking offense when the pirate paid more attention to their bird than them. In essense, they felt like the pirate was saying "F off, I'm busy" without actually saying it.

Well, how the frell am I supposed to know!?!?

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Nick
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quote:
Because back in the good old days, Pirates held out their middle finger for a perch for their birds. Those who were being looted started taking offense when the pirate paid more attention to their bird than them. In essense, they felt like the pirate was saying "F off, I'm busy" without actually saying it.

Classic T. [ROFL]

Can I use that? [Big Grin]

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Raia
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T, that was awesome.

[Laugh]

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Jexxster
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Wow, Hatrack, quite the wellspring of knowledge!
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T_Smith
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Nick, if you can find something applicable, be my guest and take my random thought.

Questions that are silly that I don't know the answer to, demand my time to respond to them in a very silly way.

Not that its a silly question. Heck, why exactly is it called flipping the bird? It is just silly to me.

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Kayla
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http://urbanlegends.about.com/b/a/007882.htm

Also. . .

quote:
The middle-finger gesture, which apparently has had phallic connotations in every culture in which it has been used, is much older. We know it dates back at least to ancient Greece, where it was referenced in "The Clouds," a play written by Aristophanes in 423 B.C. It was also well known to the Romans, who referred to it variously as digitus infamis ("infamous finger") and digitus impudicus ("indecent finger"). In all likelihood its origins were prehistoric.

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Kayla
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quote:
The following, from Eric Partridge's "Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English," may be relevant although it makes no mention of the hand gesture. To give someone the bird is "to dismiss [him], send him about his business . . . late C. 19-20. [From] the theatre . . . In Australia, 'give the bird' is to treat with derision: from before 1916." In obsolete theatrical usage (Partridge gives a date of 1883), "the bird" is defined as "a hissing of an actor," from the sound made by geese.
http://phrases.shu.ac.uk/bulletin_board/12/messages/765.html

Looks to me like we combined two different things and made one wildly popular one.

[ September 17, 2003, 09:41 PM: Message edited by: Kayla ]

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Pat
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Thanks Kayla, those of us here at the Deseret News newsroom were amazed by your research capabilities. We've all been enlightened
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Olivet
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A friend recently sent me a link to a site called "Moulin Goldmine" a sort of cheeky Ewan McGregor fangirl site. Anyway, specifically, my friend referred me to a section of pictorial 'essays'. Just for laughs silliness.

Hang on, this is the part that's relevant. One of the 'ewanessays' is called Flippin' the Bird . Thing is, the pictures display a gesture that I would not have thought of as "The Bird".

So is that some Scottish thing? Anybody know?

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Olivet
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*crickets*
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Book
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Actually, it comes from the middle ages. Archers, who are very, very difficult and expenisive to train in comparison to the rest, would have their middle fingers cut off when captured so they'd never shoot again. So, when shooting at an enemy, they'd extend the middle finger so to say, "Haha, look what I still have!"

So I hear. As to why it's called the bird, well.... No idea.

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KarlEd
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Actually, Book, your explanation is a popular myth (or urban legend) as is explained in the link provided by Kayla above. (You can also find this information elsewhere).
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Storm Saxon
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It looks like Ewan is doing that British thing that they do with the two fingers. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. I have no idea what they call it, though.
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Scott R
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Forks
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ana kata
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I understand that the gesture made by making a circle with your thumb and index finger and extending the other three fingers, which in our culture is a sort of "A-ok" gesture, in some other cultures means something obscene. Is this true, Kayla? Or is that another urban legend?
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KarlEd
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That is very true. In Brazil it is an obscene gesture, though it is also widely known that for an american it is not obscene, so there is some overlooking of the offense when the gesture is performed by an american.

Oddly, the Brazilians have a gesture made by making a fist with your thumb poking between the middle and index fingers. It's the same gesture american's make in the "got your nose" game sometimes played on little kids by adults. This gesture is sort of a "good luck" gesture in Brazil, but is very obscene in Korea. Kinda makes one want to keep ones hands in ones pockets while traveling abroad.

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pooka
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In Greece, or at least on the island of Crete, it is deeply shameful to flash your palm with all five fingers extended. This is the traffic signal of choice for young men speeding around on scooters. It literally means "curse you and your family for five generations". The morale officer briefing us said it is worse than the bird.
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saxon75
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Actually, the Greek gesture you are describing, called a "moutza," has quite ancient roots, and did not originally mean anything like that (it may mean that now, I dunno). Originally, the moutza gesture was used in order to ward off evil spirits. My classical mythology professor liked to use that as an example of an apotropaic ritual.
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pooka
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Huh, well I guess directing that at a person would imply that they are evil. Which is pretty insulting.
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saxon75
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Indeed. And, as I said, these days it may very well mean what you said it does. It's kind of rare that cultural definitions remain static for thousands upon thousands of years.
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Magson
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The "snap on each hand, clap on side of hand" thing (you know, playing the lone ranger theme song with snaps and claps?) is nothing more than an amusement in the US, but I'm told that in France it means "I'm a hooker available for hire."

I don't know if that's actually true, but it's what I'm told.

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ae
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I wonder what The Matrix must have looked like to people living in Crete. Imagine someone stopping bullets by flipping the bird. . . .
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Erik Blackheart
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Well, today we're callin' it "hookin' th' gull"!

Arrr!

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