Left-Handed Facts and Folklore

Celebrate International Left-Handers Day on August 13!

August 5, 2019
Left-Handed Facts and Folklore

International Left-Handers Day occurs this year on Tuesday, August 13! To celebrate, here are some fun facts and folklore about being left-handed. Right on, left-handers!

Years ago, some teachers insisted that all students, including left-handers, learn to write with their right hand. Teachers thought that students would have an easier time if they were not “different” from right-handed writers. Some thought that using the left hand was just a bad habit. Some even slapped or punished left-handed kids who had trouble!

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Now we know that everyone should use whichever hand is most comfortable. Today, 10 to 12 percent of the world’s population is left-handed. It’s not surprising that lefties sometimes feel “left out.” Plenty of superstitions and odd terms regarding left-handedness exist.

Left-Hander Superstitions and Terms

  • Many people believe that the devil is left-handed.
  • The Latin word for left, sinister, also means unlucky, evil, and suspicious.
  • The French word for left, gauche, also means clumsy.
  • A left-handed compliment is an insult.
  • A left-handed baseball pitcher is called a southpaw. (And no, there’s no such thing as a northpaw!)

Why are some people left-handed and others right-handed?

Scientists aren’t sure what causes left-handedness. Genetics plays a role, but it’s not the whole story. For example, identical twins have the same DNA, but it is common for one twin to be right-handed and the other to be left-handed.

Many left-handers have a symmetrical brain, meaning that the left and right portions of their brain are shaped alike. Right-handers often have an asymmetrical brain: The left cerebral hemisphere is often larger than the right cerebral hemisphere.

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No matter the shape of your brain, or the hand you favor, here’s what we have—um—left:

Left-Handed Facts and Trivia

The Left Test

There’s no sure way to measure “handedness.” One of the most widely-used tests is called the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory (developed in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1970s). This test asks participants which hand they most often use for a series of activities, including writing, eating, drawing, throwing, cutting with scissors, brushing teeth, and unscrewing a lid.

Left-handed Burgers? Baloney!

A full-page ad in USA Today in 1998 claimed that Burger King had developed the “left-handed whopper.” The burger had the same fixings, but they were turned 180 degrees so that they wouldn’t drip out on left-handed customers. It was a joke! The ad ran on April 1 (April Fools’ Day).

Lefties Day

August 13 is International Left-Handers Day. The tradition was started by the Left-Handers Club, a group in the United Kingdom. Club members around the world give interviews and play left-handed games.

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Left-hander Heaven?

Lefties might want to travel to Left Hand, West Virginia, where there is a church, a school, and a post office. The village was so named because it sits on the left-hand fork of the Big Sandy River, not because of the way its citizens write.

Left-handed Reward

A few left-handers attending Juniata College in Pennsylvania have benefited from a scholarship just for left-handers established in 1979 by Mary and Frederick Beckley, two left-handers who met when they attended tennis class together in 1919.

If you’re right-handed, try writing with your left. If you’re left-handed, try brushing your teeth with your right. You’re likely to find these activities surprisingly difficult.

So, tell us below if you are a lefty or righty and what you’ve observed about this phenomenon called handedness!

Source: 

The Old Farmer's Almanac for Kids, Volume 2

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Reader Comments

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IMALEFTY

I am the only lefty born to my parents. I have a unique talent of being able to write upside down and backwards...with both hands. Freaks out doctors. LOVE it! I "learned" to print in a one-room school but would start in the bottom right hand corner and work my way to the left-hand top of the page. Everyone facing me could read it. Poor Mrs. Jenkins had quite a time getting me to print correctly. Years later, I discovered I could do it equally well with both hands at the same time...and love to show it off to anyone and everyone. After years of struggling with righty shears, I finally got a good pair of lefties a year ago...love them!

Left hand dominate

I fish a great deal and I noticed that standard casting reels are called right handed where when attached to a rod, the rod is cast with the left hand and line reeled with the right hand. They do make left hand reels where the rod is cast with the right hand and reeled with the left hand. They call these left-hand reels. The odd thing is the right hand setup I use is considered a standard setup vs the left hand and I am left handed. All other sport related equipment are done with my dominate left hand which sometimes makes it difficult especially with firearms.

I am ambidextrous, but when I

I am ambidextrous, but when I started school, I tried to write left handed. I'm one of those who got hit with a ruler!

Wrong!

The term is back-handed compliment, not "left-handed compliment."

Left-handed vs. Back-handed

Either term is correct. They are both in the dictionary. Check it out at Dictionary [dot] com. ;-)

I am a left hander but I do

I am a left hander but I do several things right handed. I throw a ball left, but bat right. I golf right. I shoot a bow and arrow or rifle right handed, but fire a hand gun left handed. I guess you could say I am just all mixed up!

Lefty some Righty

I'm pretty much the same, Most of the thing I do right handed (i.e. bat right handed, shoot rifle off my right shoulder) I attribute to my older brother who showed me was right handed. Over the years I've learned to shoot rifle both left and right handed. My preference is still right handed. I qualified Expert in the U.S. Army on both shoulders.

left hander

I can use both left and right hands for using tools but for righting it is primarily with the left hand. I can pitch right handed and bat right handed

I think I am ambidextrous

I'm left handed and I do

I'm left handed and I do nearly everything left handed. However there are a few tasks that I find difficult to do left handed. I started golfing when I was around the age of 9. I attended a camp at the local golf course. They had loaner clubs for kids to use, but the selection of leftie clubs was so limited that I used the right handed clubs and I have been golfing right handed ever since. I was borrowed a friend's left handed club and tried to use it, but I couldn't hit straight to save my life. But in baseball I throw and hit left. I also open jars with my right hand.

leftie

I am totally left handed but also open jars with right hand and eat crisps(chips)
with right hand. I think it's because I need to hold things in the left hand as its the stronger one!

Left Handed and right handed

I play baseball left handed, play golf with either hand , shoot a rifle right handed, swing a hammer and use a screwdriver with either. Dad was left handed and all 8 siblings right handed. One son right handed and his younger brother left handed. Scissors, only right handed . Cutting with a knife only left handed. Light bulb only right handed. Posts are all left handed. Computer, left handed, mouse only right handed.

The left side of the moon

I'm a born leftie from Wheeling, West Virginia. My mother Sara, was a leftie. Her first born son,Bernie, was a leftie. Dick Dale and Jimi Hendrix, are two famous lefties who literally turned their disadvange into an advantage. They turned their guitars upside down to accomadate their left handedness. Hendrix re-strung his strings top to bottom. Dale left his strings upside down, and the rest is history. Me, I still cannot cut paper with scissors, but I always got to play first base! Lefties just need to be lefties, righties need to be righties, and that's all there is to it! Finding the left place to be different, feeling the love and understanding of your tribe, and filling a role is the left handers quest. Lol. !

Left Handed

My mother is right handed, my father left handed. I am the only lefty among their six children, including my twin brother. My kindergarten teacher was old school (40's & 50's) but allowed me to learn to write left handed although she tried to make me tilt my paper the way right handers did. I waited until she walked away and tipped it back the way that was comfortable for me. I learned to bat right handed because that's what my brothers taught to me but later started hitting left handed. Now I can bat both ways equally well. The only thing I do exclusively right handed is golf. I could never get used to swinging a club left handed. I have 13 neices and nephews and the only left hander in that generation is my twin's son. None of my three children are left handed.

I'm left-handed. Once, I was

I'm left-handed. Once, I was doing a speed exam where the questions were on the left and you ticked yes or no on the right. I had to turn my paper sideways so that my pen was near the yes/no box. The supervisor of the exam came to me and told me to straighten my paper (in case of cheating). I asked her if she had a left-handed exam paper for me and she was shocked. Because I couldn't do the quick fire exam properly, I just left the hall, and did NOT progress to a higher level in work. Apart from this, I've never found being a leftie difficult. In fact, it got me out of some chores, like cutting bread!! and even the washing up. My Mam always thought I would cut myself or drop something because I looked awkward!!

Left handed

I am left handed. My mom was also left handed. She was diagnosed with MS several years ago and lost the use of her left arm. For several years she had to do everything right handed and had a very hard time with everything. The only thing I do right handed is throw a ball, like softball, because when I was starting to learn my dad refused to buy me left handed glove. But I still batted left handed. I did very well, in HS I was voted by my teammates as the best fielder my senior year.

Left handed

I am left handed and was the only one in my family who was left handed until I had my two children. My oldest son is right handed and my youngest son is left handed. I broke my left elbow last summer and soon realized how difficult it is for a leftie to accomplish many daily task right handed, brushing teeth, applying makeup, bathing, going to the bathroom, etc. I do not remember my parents ever trying to get me to write right handed. The only problem I ever remember having in being left handed was that I had to take paper out of a three ring binder to be able to write. Also, when I used a gel pen, the ink would smear on the paper. I have never heard that being left handed had anything to do with the devil. Crazy old tale for sure! I am a Christian and love Jesus!

Left-handed

I'm left-handed, but I can brush my teeth with my right hand. I always have used scissors with my left hand. Went to parochial school, so some of us know how fun that was.

Left Handed

I have always considered myself Left Handed. I write with my left hand. I could not write with my right hand for any reason. I also throw a ball left handed. But, if I am using a hammer, I prefer my right hand. I also use my right hand to hold a fork.

Being left handed

My Dad would have been a lefty but was forced to write with his right (had his hand tied down and even got 'the strap' for using his left). He was fairly ambidextrous doing some things left and some right. I am the only one of 8 kids who is a lefty, but have several nieces and nephews who are lefties too. My mom was really proud of her lefty and always talked about it to anyone else she saw using their left-hand.

Left Handedness

I write , eat & brush my teeth left handed, but do everything else right handed...ie: crochet, bowl, use scissors, throw a ball, shoot....I've tried doing those things left handed, but too awkward. My brother is totally left handed..

My 2 oldest siblings are left

My 2 oldest siblings are left-handed. They are both musically gifted and math comes to them easily. When my 3rd siblings favored her left hand, our grandmother slapped her hand and actively discouraged her. In 1st grade on Christmas, I fell off my pony and broke my left arm which I had used to catch myself. So I learned to write with my right. The youngest was trained to write with her right, but was determined to teach herself to write with her left. The last 3 of us have some degree of dyslexia that the 2 oldest don't. I have long wondered if there was a connection between dyslexia and being "trained" out of using your natural hand.

As far as my family goes, no.

As far as my family goes, no. I'm the oldest and left handed so my family didn't try to change anyone's hand preference. My younger brother has dyslexia.

dyslexia

I am sure my father had dyslexia, undiagnosed though. He was forever getting numerals reversed, and he did not like to read at all. He left school early also, but for many reasons. He was left handed, but he mother was enlightened for a small town woman in the 1930's. She made sure that the schools did not mess with his writing hand. My two brothers are also left handed and both had some problems in school, but may not have been dyslexic. They sure cannot spell to this day, though.

Left handed

I was the younger sister in my family. My Mother, Father and Sister were right-handed. I married a left handed man. We had two kids, a boy and then a girl. They are both right-handed. A left-hander always notices another left-hander when they write. But a right-hander never gives it a thought if a person is left or right-handed. So left-handlers have a connection.

Left-handedness

My 2 oldest siblings are left-handed. They are both musically gifted and math comes to them easily. When my 3rd siblings favored her left hand, our grandmother slapped her hand and actively discouraged her. In 1st grade on Christmas, I fell off my pony and broke my left arm which I had used to catch myself. So I learned to write with my right. The youngest was trained to write with her right, but was determined to teach herself to write with her left. The last 3 of us have some degree of dyslexia that the 2 oldest don't. I have long wondered if there was a connection between dyslexia and being "trained" out of using your natural hand.

I am who I am

and I am left handed

being a lefty

The one thing I do right handed is use the mouse other than that everything is left handed. I even have a speech on the discrimination of left handed people.

Left hand

My dad and brother were supposed to be left handed. My gran tied their left hand behind them. She tried with me but my dad wouldn't let her. I loved playing basketball, I think we have an advantage. I also do many crafts and love to garden. I keep very busy and manage a gas bar. Could we be crafty?

Being Left-Handed

I'm delighted to know that there's a Left-Hander's Day.

I have a some stories about being left-handed:
1) I'm lucky that my Mother was strong & advocated for me. She said that my Grandfather told her when I was little that a left-hander is 'the devil's child" and she needed to tie my left hand behind my back so I would be forced to use my right hand. Yikes! Mom said "I'm not tying my child's hand behind her back." She DID try to put items in my right hand to try to see what I'd do (and mainly because in the early '50s, left-handers weren't as accommodated as we are now). Since I would switch items to my left hand, she just 'let it be.'
2) My fave uncle was left-handed so I tried to emulate him when writing - by turning my hand around - sort of upside down. She grabbed my hand, saying 'don't do that. Right-handed people don't have to write that way - neither do you. Just turn your paper slightly to the right (righties have their slanted to the left) so don't have to write so awkwardly.' She was a 6th-grade school teacher & was annoyed that teachers in the lower grades had lefties conform to the righties writing method. Again, I was very blessed that she didn't make me conform to the 'norm' - at least in this regard.
3) I was at a dinner at a long table with 20 friends and this older man (in his 80s), sitting several people away from me said the dumbest thing I've ever hear - loudly - "I didn't know you were wrong-handed." My response was "I'm not wrong-handed - I'm left-handed." (with a 'grrr' under my breath! Thanks for letting me vent!

I'm a lefty!

My parents and two sisters are right-handed... I and my other sister are left-handed. My husband is a righty, and our daughters are righties.

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