17 March 2015

Left-Handedness Addendum

In last Friday’s blog post, Left-Handedness, I mentioned that left-handers had a history of being stigmatized and that they must still contend with a right-handed world. If you’re neither a left-hander nor close to one, you may be as oblivious as I was before getting into the topic.
Some everyday left-hander challenges. The scissors,
can opener and pencil sharpener are designed for right-
handed operation. A left-hander must deal with the wires
when writing in a spiral notebook (or three-ring binder).
Whether the blame goes to the Greeks or Romans themselves, the Latin word for left--sinister--evolved from simply meaning left to conveying evil or unlucky, and that change carried through to Latin derivatives. Old English’s term for left meant weak or foolish; Old French’s term meant false or unfavorable, but became evil by the late 15th century. I was surprised to learn that the left side is disparaged in many languages including Slavic, Germanic and Sanskrit.

That looks comfortable, said
the right-hander (From
The Bible reportedly mentions the right hand in a positive way 100 times; the left hand is mentioned 25 times, all negatively. For example, the New International Version of Ecclesiastes 10:2 states, “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.” God’s right hand is favored in many religions; God's left hand is the hand of judgment. In Christianity, Jesus sits at God’s right side.

How often have you said or heard the expression two left hands, two left feet, a left-handed compliment or out in left field?

I’ve worked in areas of the world where the right hand is used for just about everything except personal hygiene. The left hand is used for cleaning oneself after defecation.

Right-side only credit card
machines require a bit more
dexterity from left-handers.
Due to cultural and social pressures, left-handed children may be encouraged or forced to use their right hands. It’s thought that Ronald Reagan fell into that group.

There are exceptions and not only in sports. The Andean people thought left-handers had special abilities, including magic and healing. But unless you live in the Andes, it might be nice to send a card to any left-handers you know on Left-Handers Day, 13 August. That, of course, presumes you’ve paid attention to who’s left- or right-handed.


Etymology of “left”:
Bias against left-handers:
Example challenges for left-handers:

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