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The effect of Archery on the English Language

Question:

Hi, I am doing a project on the inclusion of Archery related words and sayings into the English language. Does anyone know of a good source of information for this, such as a website or a book. Thanks very much in advance, Joel.

Response:

No, but I can give you some examples – "Point Blank" – in mediaeval times, archery targets sometimes consisted of an earth bank with a small white disc of wood or cloth pinned to it – this was the "pointe blanc" hence point blank. "Having two strings to your bow" – pre-synthetic bowstrings were prone to rot due to being constructed from organic material. The prudent archer always carried at least one spare. "Fast" and "Loose" – a bit spurious this one, but "loose" is the verb used to describe the action of releasing the bowstring, thus projecting the arrow. "Fast" has been used as a command to stop shooting for a very long time. Make of it what you will. I’ve got some more somewhere, which I’ll dig out for you J. – Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -> Hi, > I am doing a project on the inclusion of Archery related words and > sayings into the English language. Does anyone know of a good source of > information for this, such as a website or a book. > Thanks very much in advance, > Joel.

Response:

One non-verbal effect on the english language was the inclusion of the ‘two finger’ gesture of defiance/contempt. This was aimed squarly at the French – who had the habit of chopping off the middle and index fingers of any British archer who was captured! Some areas were designated for archery practice and in populated areas these required protected mounds behind target areas – these were commonly known as butts. There is still oan pen area known a The Butts in Brentford, London coming from this. Numerous pubs are named for archers, green man, robin hood, etc Dave

– Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -> Hi, > I am doing a project on the inclusion of Archery related words and > sayings into the English language. Does anyone know of a good source of > information for this, such as a website or a book. > Thanks very much in advance, > Joel.

Response:

> Hi, > I am doing a project on the inclusion of Archery related words and > sayings into the English language. Does anyone know of a good source of > information for this, such as a website or a book. > Thanks very much in advance, > Joel.

Apparantly the phrase "cock-up", as in "you really did cock that up, didn’t you?" came into being when archers incorrectly nocked the arrow so that the cock feather touched the riser, causing a bad shot when the cock feather strikes the bow, that is, they "cocked-up the shot" — Brian

Response:

The origin of "The Green Man" most probably has little to do with archery. It has closer links with a pagan fertility spirit, although no doubt the name was later associated with Robin Hood et al. One interesting pub name is The Middleton Archer, in Middleton, Greater Manchester. A large contingent of archers from Middleton was present at the battle of Flodden, and are commemorated in a contemporary stained glass window in St. Leonard’s church in the town. The sign at The Middleton Archer is a bronze statue of a very emaciated archer – more of the Middleton men died on campaign of disease and starvation than were likely killed in the battle, and the sign commemorates this. You are correct about butts, though. Anywhere with the name "Butts" was once on or near an archery practice ground. Of course, many occupational and trade names connected with archery survive as modern surnames – Bowyer, Archer, Bowman, Fletcher, Arrowsmith and Stringer being the obvious ones. My mother’s maiden name is Fletcher which is odd considering my absolute fascination with building arrows! J. – Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -> One non-verbal effect on the english language was the inclusion of the ‘two > finger’ gesture of defiance/contempt. > This was aimed squarly at the French – who had the habit of chopping off the > middle and index fingers of any British archer who was captured! > Some areas were designated for archery practice and in populated areas these > required protected mounds behind target areas – these were commonly known as > butts. There is still oan pen area known a The Butts in Brentford, London > coming from this. > Numerous pubs are named for archers, green man, robin hood, etc

Response:

>"Fast" and "Loose" – a bit spurious this one, but "loose" is the verb used >to describe the action of releasing the bowstring, thus projecting the >arrow. "Fast" has been used as a command to stop shooting for a very long >time. Make of it what you will.

An archer ‘loose-ing’ after having been told to ‘hold fast’ is putting others in danger, i.e. ‘playing fast and loose’ with them. — Bob Unitt (UK)

Response:

- Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -> Hi, > I am doing a project on the inclusion of Archery related words and > sayings into the English language. Does anyone know of a good source of > information for this, such as a website or a book. > Thanks very much in advance, > Joel. > Apparantly the phrase "cock-up", as in "you really did cock that up, didn’t > you?" came into being when archers incorrectly nocked the arrow so that the > cock feather touched the riser, causing a bad shot when the cock feather > strikes the bow, that is, they "cocked-up the shot"

Ner cast a clout ’til May is out, refers to the leather jacket (clout) that was worn by archers and is the reason that clout archery is around today only the leather jackets proved too expensive and were replaced by targets. Chris

Response:

EH? Clout is high mediaeval English for "Cloth". The original "clout" of a clout shoot was a cloth target laid out flat on the ground onto which the archer had to drop his shaft. Nowt to do with leather jerkins, old bean! J – Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -> Ner cast a clout ’til May is out, refers to the leather jacket (clout) > that was worn by archers and is the reason that clout archery is > around today only the leather jackets proved too expensive and were > replaced by targets. > Chris

Response:

Have to agree with John here… Also there is much doubt about the "Cock up" theory…  🙂 Fighting with Cocks has been very common for ages, when you put them together in the ring thats the cock up and its when a mess of feathers and blood ensue…hence "tha’s med a reet cock up theer, tha naws" Claim is also layed by the profession of Chair Bodgers (wooden chair makers) who assert that a badly made chair which has only three feet on the ground is "cocked up" so take your choice.

– Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -> EH? > Clout is high mediaeval English for "Cloth". The original "clout" of a > clout shoot was a cloth target laid out flat on the ground onto which the > archer had to drop his shaft. > Nowt to do with leather jerkins, old bean! > J > Ner cast a clout ’til May is out, refers to the leather jacket (clout) > that was worn by archers and is the reason that clout archery is > around today only the leather jackets proved too expensive and were > replaced by targets. > Chris

Response:

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