OT: thumb the nose

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat May 15 16:38:16 UTC 2010

At 5/15/2010 10:24 AM, Amy West wrote:
>The extension of the thumb and pinky forwards
>and backwards obviously imitates the stem and stern of a Viking Age
>ship, with the waggling fingers imitating a luffing sail. This sign was
>brought over by the Norse who settled Bangor, Maine -- the lost
>settlement of Norumbega -- in the 1200s and 1300s and was used as a sign
>within their group.

The antiquarians cited by the Encyclopedia Britannica are
mistaken.  The Norse settled on the shores of the Charles River,
sailing their longboat some 10 or 15 miles upriver to a location on
the borders of present-day Newton and Weston, near where the
Massachusetts Turnpike and Route 128 (aka Interstate 95) intersect.

Their amusement area, known into modern times as Norumbega Park, was
thoroughly investigated by archaeologists (no mere 19th-century
"antiquarians") in the 1960s.  They had retired their ship and turned
to canoes and pedal boats.  A portion of the area continues to be
used for recreation, in the Norumbega Park Conservation Land of the
City of Newton.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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