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Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?

Helen 17 Sep 03 - 05:53 AM
Dave Bryant 17 Sep 03 - 06:25 AM
Jim Dixon 17 Sep 03 - 06:58 AM
greg stephens 17 Sep 03 - 07:04 AM
Joybell 17 Sep 03 - 07:13 AM
GUEST,Walden 17 Sep 03 - 07:24 AM
Grab 17 Sep 03 - 08:19 AM
The_one_and_only_Dai 17 Sep 03 - 08:44 AM
Mary in Kentucky 17 Sep 03 - 09:51 AM
Mary in Kentucky 17 Sep 03 - 09:52 AM
Nerd 17 Sep 03 - 05:44 PM
GUEST,misophist 17 Sep 03 - 08:30 PM
The Fooles Troupe 17 Sep 03 - 11:37 PM
Catherine Jayne 18 Sep 03 - 03:08 AM
The_one_and_only_Dai 18 Sep 03 - 04:06 AM
Dave Bryant 18 Sep 03 - 04:23 AM
Mark Cohen 18 Sep 03 - 06:24 AM
Mark Cohen 18 Sep 03 - 06:25 AM
billy bob 18 Sep 03 - 06:47 AM
The_one_and_only_Dai 18 Sep 03 - 08:46 AM
Peg 18 Sep 03 - 10:14 AM
GUEST,Crystal 18 Sep 03 - 10:20 AM
Helen 19 Sep 03 - 08:42 PM
Q 19 Sep 03 - 09:30 PM
mack/misophist 20 Sep 03 - 12:07 AM
GUEST,kj 20 Sep 03 - 11:17 AM
GUEST 20 Sep 03 - 06:27 PM
Matt_R 20 Sep 03 - 07:05 PM
fox4zero 20 Sep 03 - 07:20 PM
hesperis 20 Sep 03 - 07:56 PM
Helen 21 Sep 03 - 12:13 AM
Rapparee 21 Sep 03 - 10:20 AM
GUEST 21 Sep 03 - 03:26 PM
Reiver 2 21 Sep 03 - 08:55 PM
Roger the Skiffler 22 Sep 03 - 05:06 AM
Helen 22 Sep 03 - 06:43 AM
GUEST,John Miller 24 Jul 08 - 01:54 PM
PoppaGator 24 Jul 08 - 03:48 PM
Uncle_DaveO 24 Jul 08 - 04:00 PM
Uncle_DaveO 24 Jul 08 - 04:19 PM
Helen 24 Jul 08 - 04:58 PM
Don Firth 24 Jul 08 - 06:28 PM
Helen 24 Jul 08 - 08:27 PM
Joe Offer 24 Jul 08 - 09:15 PM
JohnInKansas 24 Jul 08 - 11:38 PM
Uncle Phil 25 Jul 08 - 12:11 AM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Jul 08 - 01:08 PM
PoppaGator 25 Jul 08 - 01:21 PM
Don Firth 25 Jul 08 - 04:21 PM
Stringsinger 25 Jul 08 - 04:34 PM
Dorrington Lad 25 Jul 08 - 04:53 PM
Uncle_DaveO 25 Jul 08 - 05:31 PM
Helen 25 Jul 08 - 08:12 PM
Helen 25 Jul 08 - 08:14 PM
Helen 25 Jul 08 - 08:29 PM
Snuffy 26 Jul 08 - 04:00 PM
GUEST,FartMaster 01 Sep 08 - 04:26 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Helen
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 05:53 AM

I've been wondering this since I was a kid.

Why do people often put two fingers up, like bunny ears, behind other people's heads when they are getting their photo taken? Why do people get so mad about it sometimes. Is it just to be silly or is there a meaning to the gesture? Is it somehow related to the two finger salute, supposedly going back to the time when French invaders of Britain cut off the plucking fingers of long-bowmen so that they couldn't shoot their arrows?

I don't think that this is only an Australian prank, or is it?

Helen


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 06:25 AM

I think you'll find it is the same as the guesture which is supposed to go back to the battle of Agincourt. If you check your history, however, you'll find that it was the British invaders of France who were reputed to have made it. The French haven't successfully invaded England since 1066.

Basically it means f**k you - it's about the same sentiment as our transatlantic cousins convey with their middle finger (up yours). I suppose it's done to show some kind of distain for the person being photographed. McFat is doing it in a photo which I took of "Old Git" during their duel at Whitby FF.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 06:58 AM

It happens in the US, too, although the two-finger gesture does not have the same meaning here. It's a favorite kids' prank. Usually it's an empty threat because the photographer won't allow it. Maybe it has its origins in the "horns of the cuckold" gesture, but that's not what it means today. The only term I've heard for it is "bunny ears." It's just a way of making (or threatening to make) another person look funny.

I could rephrase the question in a broader way: Why do (some) people take photographs so damned seriously? I mean, why does it matter so much to them if a photograph is unflattering? They seem to think people are going to judge them by their photographs rather than by how they look in real life.

I work in a university mailroom. We require students to show a picture ID before we hand over packages to them. It's not a problem for most students, but a few are very reluctant to show us their pictures. Some have obliterated their pictures, or covered them over with pictures they like better (thus making the card useless as proof of their identity).

I consider it equally screwy that some of my coworkers are unreasonably rigid about enforcing the rule that a student MUST show an official University ID. I have seen them refuse to accept a driver's license or even a passport as proof of a student's identity! What's THAT about?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in ph
From: greg stephens
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 07:04 AM

I think it goes back to making a man look like a cuckold, ie somebody's been shagging his wife. Being cuckolded was referred as wearing the horns, and what the rude person is doing is making the man appear horned to the rest of the company, who therefore laugh at him. This is an old gesture, and I think quite distict from the thrusting V-sign which is made offensively to a person's face as a challenge. (I dont think much of the Agincourt/cutting off fingers business, a recent bit of fakelore I suspect).
   The fingers behind the head as done nowadays in photos I suspect has lost the literal cuckold meaning, and has become just slightly offensively funny: it is reinforced by the fact that it makes the person look like the devil, which is another kind of "horned" insult.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Joybell
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 07:13 AM

My American husband says that in America raised index and little fingers mean Bull S**t. In Europe it means cuckold. With the index and middle fingers it depends which way you present them. Front on victory and back facing f*** you. I too (I'm Australian)have wondered about the rabbit-ears photo sign, while having the idea it was rude in some way. H says that the rabbit sign is used in America but he has usually seen it in cartoons. He has also seen the cuckold sign used in a french cartoon of a photo shot. I'm sure I've seen various forms of it in news film, taken in the Middle East, where there are big groups of kids too.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: GUEST,Walden
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 07:24 AM

When I was a young child and asked my father about this gesture (which was made by people in front of large groups, sometimes in non-photograph situations), he insisted that it meant that the person was growing devil horns.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Grab
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 08:19 AM

AFAIK, bunny ears is just a photo thing. Like photos with telegraph poles coming out of your head, or powerlines hanging from your ears, or propping up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it's one of those silly photo-illusion things. Not that I'm an expert, but when me or anyone I know has done it, it's always a general fooling-around thing.

In answer to your question, consider another question "I just stuck a sign saying 'kick me' on someone's back, why are they annoyed at me?" If you're making them look silly, and if they've not got much of a sense of humour, there's a good chance they will get annoyed by it, no?

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: The_one_and_only_Dai
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 08:44 AM

And another thing. The 'Frenchmen' who arrived in 1066 were Vikings. Tostig WAS William the Bastard's cousin, you know... as was Harold Godwinson... And in any case the last time the French 'sucessfully' invaded Britain was in 1796, at Fishguard. Just depends how you define 'success'... the bar is, I believe, quite low in France.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 09:51 AM

I somehow always thought it was like Walden said, growing devel horns. But I never really gave it much thought.

I learned in teaching teenagers that every single gesture and word has a meaning known only to them!

Here's how I understand the index and little finger.   < a href="http://www.mackbrown-texasfootball.com/pages/proudtrads/hookem.html">Hook 'em Horns!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 09:52 AM

Hook 'em Horns!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Nerd
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 05:44 PM

The whole idea of an origin in a French-English battle is a myth that apparently started out as a joke. The claim was that the two-finger salute was made at Agincourt by the English because the French policy was to cut off the bow fingers of their prisoners (in retaliation for such successful archery from the English). The punchline was that the English would hold up their fingers and shout "Pluck yew!" (which is of course totally implausible). Oddly, the joke survives without the punchline and many people believe it that way.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: GUEST,misophist
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 08:30 PM

If you're talking about the first two fingers of the hand, then I don't know. It you mean the first and last finger, I can answer that one. It's an old Europeas gesture for averting the 'evil eye'. It's been trivialized, that's all.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 11:37 PM

Funnily enough, it is a myth that England was not sucessfully invaded after 1066 and before WWII.

There was this Dutch bloke, see, and he came across with about 20,000 fully armed troops, and became King, in spite of sporadic ineffectual military and civil protests.

William of Orange.

:-)

Robin


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Catherine Jayne
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 03:08 AM

WhenI did my English A Level quite a few years ago trhe gesture was explained to us as a sign of the ass or fool.....the fingers behind the head represent the ears of the ass/donkey. Back in Shakespearean times this was an insult...it meant Fool....however it seems to have taken on a more vulgar meaning in more modern times.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: The_one_and_only_Dai
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 04:06 AM

Ah Robin, but William of Orange was invited. Parliament had disbanded the militias in England because they didn't support the tenure of James II, who was after all both a Stuart and a Catholic. Far better was William, the stout protestant who would bow to the will of Parliament.. or so they thought... so whether it was an 'invasion' is another moot point...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 04:23 AM

Here is the example of said behaviour from the McFat / Old Git duel that I mentioned in my previous posting.

Foolestroupe - my actual words were The French haven't successfully invaded England since 1066 - but I concede Dai's point that the Normans were actually of Viking descent (as was the current English King Harold).

I was also very careful to use the words supposed and reputed in connection with the Agincourt story.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 06:24 AM

The Hook 'em Horns or cuckold sign is only a digit away from the Hawaiian "shaka" sign: thumb and index finger extended, three middle fingers bent down. Nobody seems to know where that sign came from. Lots of folklore in a local newspaper column here and here. It's flashed in different positions, too: up, down, sideways, wiggling back and forth, all are seen. It's supposed to mean "hang loose" and is also used for "hello", "thanks", "that's cool", and so on. What's certain is that "shaka" is not the Hawaiian word for "hang loose"--there's no "sh" in the Hawaiian language. But whatever the origin, when somebody lets me in front of them as I'm changing lanes on the freeway, I hold up my hand in acknowledgement: "Shaka, brah!"

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 06:25 AM

Oops! That should read, thumb and little finger extended...I'd better get to sleep!

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: billy bob
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 06:47 AM

having used both the bunny ears and the evil eye signs for several years one in photos one in greeting
i susspect the clue is in the name!
but if you want a laugh do it to the person TAKING the photo
and examin who gets the joke and who doesn't
this works best if you are not known to the photographer/ee(s)
laugh on
oh and the archers at ajencourt were welsh!!!!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: The_one_and_only_Dai
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 08:46 AM

*ahem*


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Peg
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 10:14 AM

Cat; I think the Shakespearean origin of "ass ears" seems plausible and of course Shakespeare was known for many veiled and obvious references to cuckolding, so maybe the two are connected in this gesture? Seems it has been with us a long time and have taken on different meanings over the years...

Jim Dixon; the college where I teach is very mercenary about havng teh student ID too; and once when I did not have mine they would not accept another picture ID, even though my name matched the one in the course catalog! Part of the problem is that some of the people hired to work security do not have the good sense God gave pistachio nuts.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: GUEST,Crystal
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 10:20 AM

When I was in junior school (1994) and the early years of secondary school (1995-96) it meant "Kiss me now S*ag me later" This seamed terribaly funny at the time. Friends in London did the same thing but it might have been confined to the south east of England!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: Helen
Date: 19 Sep 03 - 08:42 PM

Thanks, guys! I am starting to wonder whether the bunny ears sign means whatever you want it to mean, or nothing in particular, and could be seen as an example of non-verbal folklore, passed on by observation and imitation.

It possibly or even probably did come from the cuckolding taunts which I hadn't thought of, but also, I think that when males do it to females maybe they are expressing non-verbally what Crystal said:    "Kiss me now S*ag me later". The horns make sense in that way.

But some people probably just do it because that's what people do when they are getting their photos taken.

I just thought of an unusual sci-fi novel I have read by John Crowley called Engine Summer. As a representation of the folk process it is well done. Briefly, society as we currently know it has been broken down by war or something catastrophic and people-generated. A lot of the impact of the book, for me, was the way that a previous society is portrayed in memory and words and in effect, folklore. A lot of concepts held by the small community in the novel appear to be one remarkable thing in their society and are later seen as being something commonplace or ordinary in our society. A bit like the movie First Contact, except in reverse. It is the descendants of the previous highly technological and developed society who are interpreting the signs and the folk memory of that society.

Too hard to describe here, but well worth reading. It's only a short book, but read it slowly and absorb the ideas. I re-read it recently and enjoyed it even more the second time.

So, in that light, bunny ears might have once been something specific but now could mean different things to different people, or might just be a habit which many people don't stop and think about.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Q
Date: 19 Sep 03 - 09:30 PM

Obviously, only the Shadow knows---


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: mack/misophist
Date: 20 Sep 03 - 12:07 AM

I'm too tired to resarch it right now but I'm pretty sure the 'evil eye' gesture is older than Shakespeare. I't found in Spain, Italy, and the like.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: GUEST,kj
Date: 20 Sep 03 - 11:17 AM

In Spain it has the horn meaning .. i.e your partner has been with somebody else.

They talk about having horns all the time here !


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Sep 03 - 06:27 PM

It did not appear in the USA photographs until the television show "My Favorite Martian" circa 1962. It is to emulate an alien's antenna.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Matt_R
Date: 20 Sep 03 - 07:05 PM

"I'm pretty sure the 'evil eye' gesture is older than Shakespeare. I't found in Spain, Italy, and the like."

Exactly. That hand gesture is used to ward off the Evil Eye...you look across your fingers at the person you suspect of giving you the Evil Eye. It's HIGHLY prominent in southern Italian tradition, including that of my family, where it's called "giving someone the maloikeys," which is a warped take on the word 'maloccio,' which means "evil eye" in Italian.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: fox4zero
Date: 20 Sep 03 - 07:20 PM

Guest...you aren't serious are you?
I'm over 72 years old, and we kids did it as long as I can remember.
It meant DONKEY ears or the ears of an ASS. Rabbits were not a consideration.
Kids in the Bronx in the 1930's didn't know diddely squat about Welsh archers, Norman invaders, Agincourt, cuckolds or shagging.

Larry


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: hesperis
Date: 20 Sep 03 - 07:56 PM

When I was a kid, other kids would do that on the playground when you were talking... they'd do the bunny ears behind your head, then start counting. The count they got to when you discovered it, was how many children you'd have.

I think the highest count anyone ever got on me was 3000. Or so he said.

I highly doubt I'll be having 3000 children... unless you count musical compositions as children too. LOL!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: Helen
Date: 21 Sep 03 - 12:13 AM

fox4zero,

I just used the term "bunny ears" to describe it so everyone would know what I meant. Because I had to describe a visual gesture with words it seemed like a good way to express it. I don't actually think that rabbits have anything to do with the gesture.

Also, you said that kids from the Bronx wouldn't know about "Welsh archers, Norman invaders, Agincourt, cuckolds or shagging" but that's the really intriguing thing about folklore: it gets passed down from generation to generation until the origins get lost, so knowing where it came from and what it means doesn't necessarily go with actually doing the gesture.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: Rapparee
Date: 21 Sep 03 - 10:20 AM

Back in West Central Illinois in the 1950s we understood it to mean "donkey's ears" or "mule ears."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Sep 03 - 03:26 PM

Kids didn't know about shagging ? Aye, right ! Maybe they didn't do it, but I am pretty sure they knew about it !


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Reiver 2
Date: 21 Sep 03 - 08:55 PM

Interesting thread. I've seen it done in photos here in the U.S. and always assumed it was bunny ears. I'm 73 and never heard it called that... or anything else for that matter. I always regarded it as just a rather dumb kids prank. I've never seen it done by adults in this country, unless occasionally by a rather juvenile adult. I don't doubt that in other countries it may have more serious meanings, and I suspect even in Britain it may originally have originated as the cuckold sign, but if it ever did in the U.S., it was farther back than 73 years.

I was delighted to see the reference to Agincourt and the bowmen, as a couple of years ago I came across the following and thought it was rather hilarious.

ONLY A FINGER OF SPEECH ?

On their NPR "Car Talk" show, 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 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!"

Maybe it's all only a myth, but it makes a great story! Now if only someone could transform it into a folk song. (And I will never again be surprized at any thread topic I see here on the Mudcat!)

Reiver 2


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 22 Sep 03 - 05:06 AM

Re: Jim Dixon's comment, before the university world canned me (er, I mean, offered me a well-deserved early retirement)we had the same problem with student photo-library cards, one had his dog's photo on! Another girl in a full burkha (and a broad Birmingham accent) always kept her thumb over her photo and would only show her picture to female staff members, I often wondered how they knew it was really her at exam times.
As the UK govt is now talking about a national ID card, I wonder if they've considered what they'll accept, gruning, bunny ears, photo in burkha or Scream mask!

RtS
(better looking in a mask!)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: Helen
Date: 22 Sep 03 - 06:43 AM

RtS,

I copied an article out of our local newspaper about a woman in the U.S. who converted to Islam and is now challenging the law about driving licence photos. She said that she should be allowed to wear it in the photo, but part of the case of the other side was that she had had photos taken of herself at the beach in a swimsuit since her conversion. That case was a couple of months ago. I don't know what the outcome was.

It's a tough question, but unfortunately I foresee the next logical step which is that we all have to be fingerprinted instead.

Here in Oz the spectre of the Australia Card reared its ugly head again this week in the news. The gov't keeps trying but so far the Civil Rights people keep getting it knocked back.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: GUEST,John Miller
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 01:54 PM

The Two Finger V sign came from the British Long Bowmen captured by the French. At the Battle of Agencourt
The English Long Bow was the most deadly wepons of it's day. The English Longbow man could shoot an arrow twice the distence of any other bow giving the English a great advantage in any battle.
    Because of this the French when they took any English Long bow men captive would as soon as possible cut off the first two fingers of the right hand.of the bowmen.
    In this great battle some English bowmen were taken captive by the French but were released so quickly by the English army the French had no time to cut off thier fingers and as the bowmen were released they came out of thier imprisonment thankful for their release waving their right hands in the air showing their comerades they still had their fingers.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 03:48 PM

I grew up believing that the universal fingers-behind-the-head-in-a-photo gesture signified "devil horns."

When I first heard this, I was probably too young to understand the concept of "cuckhold." Did my parents deliberately teach me a bowdlerized version of this gesture's meaning? Probably not ~ I think they probably just passed along what they had been told.

Yuo might have to go back several generations to find the concerned parent who deliberately censored him/her self and told a child those horns were devil horns, not cuckhold's horn's.

Of course, any more than two or three generations ago, there were no cameras and no snapshots. Did people sneak behind their friends and "put the horns on them" for the amusement of onlookers, even back when there was no means of permanently recording an image of the event?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 04:00 PM

That apochryphal story about Agincourt and the English bowmen seemingly has a terrific grip on the minds of many. It's been inserted here in this thread at least three times. I guess the last two inserters hadn't bothered to read the whole thread before rushing in with their "knowledge".

Pretty well exploded, a long time ago.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 04:19 PM

Somehow I sent that last post without inserting this, from Snopes, which does the exploding in some detail: http://www.snopes.com/language/apocryph/pluckyew.asp

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: Helen
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 04:58 PM

I love it when old threads re-surface. Interesting reading.

On re-reading I'm thinking that the photo gesture probably came from the ass's ears origins, i.e. making someone look like a fool. I also wonder whether the ass's ears and the cuckold sign became intertwined because a cuckold tends to be thought of as someone who is being made a fool of by his wife, "behind his back" i.e. without his knowledge. I'm thinking of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream where transforming the man called Bottom into an ass is considered to be a great joke by Oberon, the King of the Fairies. I'm also thinking of court jesters, who probably did do the cuckold or the ass's ears signs behind certain people, to make other people laugh. It would be particularly apt if the target was in fact being cuckolded and didn't know it.

I think the devil's horns is a different gesture altogether.

My niece has been in Japan for some years. She showed us a photo of a group of Japanese students, friends of hers at the University where she was studying. One or two of them were using the ass's ears gesture. Probably learned from European friends.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 06:28 PM

Apart from the "devil's horns" gesture with the index and pinky raised (sometimes a gesture to either give someone the evil eye or ward it off), the "V for victory" sign with index and middle, associated with Winston Churchill (or "Someone stole his cigar, but he hasn't noticed yet."), or the time in the early 1960s when a friend of mine and I were driving slowly through a neighborhood looking for a particular address when a couple of teen-aged girls smiled and raised their index and middle fingers as we passed—we speculated on what that meant ("Two bucks??")—and later learned it was the peace sign, I don't think there's any particular significance to it in photographs, other than a goofy prank to endow someone else in a photo with "bunny ears."

It starts early (Clicky #1), keeps right on going (Clicky #2), and some folks never outgrow it Clicky #3). No one is safe (Clicky #4, (Clicky #5), and (Clicky #6).

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: Helen
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 08:27 PM

Don,

I love Clicky #4. The subject of the photo is obviously a very serious, sober individual who thinks profoundly about life, the universe and everything, and would possibly not be amused about such a foolish gesture. :-)

Thanks for illustrating this thread.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 09:15 PM

I can't see any folklore in this - I've always thought my brother does it because he wants to be obnoxious....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 11:38 PM

The ONLY meaning, in most US group photos, is that the person owning the fingers is an obnoxious ASSHOLE so self-centered that he feels compelled to "be clever" and make sure that EVERYONE notices him, with no regard for how his behavior detracts from the purposes of the photo.

(Note: I use the masculine since I've NEVER seen this done by a female, but don't mean to slight anyone by insisting that it never happens.)

While only mildly annoying in "informal" pictures, in more formal shots where people are assembled to record an event so that they can be reminded of it later, the intent of the ASSHOLE is always completely successful.

I have a "class picture" in which this was done, and anyone who sees it fifty years later will know instantly that ****** was an ASSHOLE and a perpetual SMARTASS up to the day he died in prison. We ALL remember him well, albeit I've not met anyone who remembers him FONDLY.

The only literal translation is "Look at me! I'm an antisocial SMARTASS." It is, in most cases, NOT A COMMENT on the "victim," since the victim usually is just the person who by random chance happens to be standing closest.

John


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Uncle Phil
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 12:11 AM

Why 2 fingers? One's not enough and 3's too many.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 01:08 PM

When I was a little girl, we kids thought that they were devil horns and that certain boys were insulting the girls again. As it happened, I had an older brother who was a very mean kid, and I think I was unusually aware of that type thing.

Read today's cartoons, and you will see that it's still going on.

Fortunately, the people who took the class pictures didn't allow it in the pictures.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 01:21 PM

I tried to view all six of Don Firth's illustrations. For some reason, I get a "not found" message for Clickies #3 and #4. I was able to see the other four photos, and tried several times to click my way to the missing two, but failed repeatedly.

I'm very puzzled to see that someone else (Helen, above) was able to view #4, and to enjoy it enough to post a response. Makes me that much more curious, and more frustrated, at not being able to see it for myself.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 04:21 PM

I can't figure that either, PoppaGator. They worked okay when I first posted them (did a preview), but I can't get them today. Strange. #3 was a shot of three guys old enough to know better, but one of them was giving another "the fingers." #4 was someone doing the same to a very serious looking dog.

The one with the dog sort of reminded me of the time I went to the Woodland Park Zoo, and there was Bobo, the gorilla, in the confortable, homey environment they had provided for him.

Bobo had been raised from infancy by a local family who donated him to the zoo when he grew to the point where he tended to break chairs when he sat on them. And he didn't know his own strength, which could be dangerous, although he was quite tame and a gentle soul. The zoo took very good care of him, and his "family" (human) visited him almost every day (his 4th birthday party). He was a major attraction until he finally lived out his life span.

I recall seeing numbers of people--mostly adults--standing in front of the glass, jumping up and down, scratching their armpits, and making "ho-ho-ho" monkey noises while Bobo sat there with his arms crossed, his chin resting on one fist, and observing them with the serious, speculative look of a philosopher.

I thought to myself, "If I were an alien visiting earth, who would I consider to be the intelligent one here?"

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: Stringsinger
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 04:34 PM

Another possibility is the reference to the "devil".

Frank


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: Dorrington Lad
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 04:53 PM

Getting back to the "bunny ears" cuckold or "donkey ears" of this thread, let me say I have been a perpetrator of this gesture in group photographs for many years. I believe that whatever it's meaning, it ch purports to prick pomposity. I generally use it on subjects who do not deserve it (irony?) and it generally improves the humour of the situation. I always try to ensure that there is at least one photograph without my intervention, but I hope some of the others will pass into history.

Screwing up group photographs is a bit of a sport. There was a huge panoramic photograph from St Custards (Newcastle) where the boy on the far left of the back row also appeared on the far right. This was before my time but the teaching staff held his achievement in high regard.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 05:31 PM

Screwing up group photographs is a bit of a sport. There was a huge panoramic photograph from St Custards (Newcastle) where the boy on the far left of the back row also appeared on the far right. This was before my time but the teaching staff held his achievement in high regard.

The person on both ends is a standard joke with the operators of those panoramic cameras. Whenever (several times, at banjo camps and the like) I've been in such a session, the cameraman organized the "end run".   I bet that's been going on ever since the panoramic camera was invented.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: Helen
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 08:12 PM

Try copying the link locations for the pictures (on a PC, right click on the link for the picture and choose Copy Link Location) then paste the link into the address bar at the top of the page and hit Enter. (I open a new window or tab so that I don't lose the spot I was reading in the current window).

Et viola! (musical pun, because I can't remember how to do the html for an acute accent over the "a") there it is.

Don Firth, I like your info about Bobo. There has to be intelligence in both of these animals, Bobo and the dog in Clicky #4. You can see it in there eyes and expressions.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: Helen
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 08:14 PM

Yesterday while being silly (who, me?) and talking to my hubby, I put my thumb to my nose and waggled my fingers at him. Oh great and wise Mudcatters, what does that gesture mean and what are its origins? I haven't Googled it yet but I might have a problem because I don't know if the gesture has a name.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: Helen
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 08:29 PM

I spoke too soon - a quick Google revealed these, and more:

Indopedia: Gesture

Referred to as "cocking a snook"

wikipedia: Types of gestures

Also a reference to bunny ears, but Mudcat answers are more informative.


In Google, using the search terms:

thumb to nose waggled fingers

There were 35100 items returned. Obviously a subject of interest to many people.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in photos?
From: Snuffy
Date: 26 Jul 08 - 04:00 PM

As well as cocking a snook, that gesture is also known as making long bacon.

You can an example of its use in the Stanley Holloway monologue Three Ha'pence a Foot


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Why - 2 fingers behind others in pho
From: GUEST,FartMaster
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 04:26 AM

I read the davinci code a while back and Langdon described the fingers behind the head refferencing some god of sex, he had a goat head and such. Some other stupid religion translated that horns from that god to the devil and him having horns. One group of crusading dudes sided with this religion and had some ceremony thing to do with the head, and the public started thinking them as worshippers of the devil. People now unknowingly put the fingers behind the head as horns to represent so, but unwittingly promoting the victim of having a high sperm count. if you did that to a girl u should apologize :D


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