V sign ✌ by Kel

or, Why you should be careful when ordering two drinks in a pub...

The V for Victory meaning, with the palm of the hand facing the observer, potentially dates back to antiquity as this symbol has been found carved in stone among representations of chariot racers and other victory themes in the city of Magnesia ad Meandrum. In more recent times, the V for Victory symbol was adopted by the Allied Forces in World War II, most famously by Winston Churchill. This use was mimicked by US president Richard Nixon to signal victory in the Vietnam War.



This use by Nixon of the symbol caused anti-war protestors to adopt the gesture while saying Peace. As a consequence, the gesture now has a new meaning as a peace sign and is particularly popular as a pose in informal photographs. In Japan, the pose is known as piisu sain (peace sign) and is so popular that Emoji and Unicode both have it as a symbol.


However, when the palm faces inward the gesture has an insulting meaning on par with 'the finger' (middle finger raised, with the palm facing inward). The 'two-finger salute' has many names including 'The Longbowman Salute', 'The Agincourt Salute', The Tongs' and 'The Forks'. But despite the early hints in the name (the Battle of Agincourt, a major vicotry for England in the Hundred Years War and famous for the use of large numbers of English longbow archers), the meaning as an insult is relatively new. The first confirmed use as an insult was not until 1901 and was in widespread use as a playground insult by the 1950s in Britain and British colonies including Australia but is not used in the United States.


It appears that the gesture used in the Morporkia Ten Pence Purple stamp is that of the palm inward version. But the stingent checking of the AM Post office may not mean that the intention was insulting. When Winstong Churchill first used the symbol, he used the palm in version before being informed by his aids of the alternative meaning.


Other notable gaffs include US president Gerorge H W Bush (the first one) who, while touring Australia in 1992, attempted to give the peace sign version to protesting Australian farmers, instead gave the palm in version. Perhaps Morporkia got a bit confused. Of course, she is a Morporkian so it is also possible that she knows exactly what she is gesturing...


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