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: 

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Reader Comments

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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.

Left Handedness

I'm dominantly left handed, yet, I do many things right handed and can even write right handed, not well, but I can do it. So, what does that say about me?

I am left handed

I cannot write with my right hand but I learned how to cut material with my right hand because there weren't left handed scissors growing up and I learned how to knit and crochet by my aunt who was right handed. It looks like my grand daughter is going to be a leftie too. My grand son is definitely right handed.

Handedness

I am a lifelong leftie, born to a woman who PROBABLY should have been left-handed, but was forced to use her right hand, resulting in atrocious, nearly illegible writing. The only thing
Mom made me do right-handed was to use "regular" scissors, explaining that she knew it wasn't fair, but that it's a right-handed world (left-handed scissors were VERY rare in the 50's). Both parents forced me to learn to eat right-handed "in case you break your left arm" when I was 7, until I pointed out that they weren't forcing my sister to eat left-handed.
That being said, I CANNOT use left-handed scissors, although I've tried. And, if the dining table is extremely crowded, I CAN eat with my right hand, if necessary, although I was also taught that eating with one's elbows flailing about was not acceptable, soooo.

Left handed parents

My wife and I are both left handed and are kids are all right handed.

Left to Right

Seems peculiar that two left-handed parents can give birth to right-handed children. My science class (1970s) taught us that left-handedness was recessive, thus two left-handed parents wouldn't give birth to right-chanded children.

Being left handed

I use both hands but predominately use my left. I have been irritated over the years by common items clearly designed for right handers. A couple of examples, a deck of cards. If a lefty were to pick up a hand of cards for the first time, the left thumb would fan them and there are no numbers or letters showing on the right edge of the cards. The user would see blank edges. Door knobs! Many times over my lifetime, i have reached for a door knob with my left hand, turn the the knob instinctively to the left only to turn my hand into the door jam and bang my fingers or hand. Door knobs have been designed to turn to the right mostly. Those can openers from years ago that were metal and the cutting piece had to be lifted for the tip to cut the can. Never was able to operate one of those and have met other lefties who could not either. Just a couple of things over the years I have noticed. I could go on but others have stories to tell. Happy Left Handers Day~

Another lefty

Like many, my grandmother was lefthanded, but grew up in a time when it wasn't permitted. Neither of my parents is a lefty, but of three kids, two of us are lefthanded. The third is jealous. Living in a righthanded world, it has always seemed to me that lefthanders are (have to be) much more adaptable than righties. Did anyone else find it annoying to be asked "how do you DO that with your left hand?" The same way you do it with your right. What kind of a question is that?

Left handed

I write left handed but do everything else right handed

lefty

I write and throw a ball left handed. Most everything else, just depends on which hand I pick it up with, but mostly left dominate. Altho right eye dominate, so shoot right handed.

I found that I have no

I found that I have no dominant eye, which is fun actually. I can shoot with both hands with almost the same accuracy too.

I am a right hander. I use

I am a right hander. I use my left for turning on or taking lids off. Counting money,dealing cards. Using a baseball bat. Using my right hand for these i can not do. My grandpa was left handed was changed by teachers to right hand. My brother and his daughter are left handed.

Able to write forward with left hand and in reverse with right

I haven't tried it in years, but I used to be able to simultaneously write forward with my left hand and backward with my right hand.

I refer to myself as a "..

I refer to myself as a "...Catholic trained righty..."

One thing that continues to

One thing that continues to be a problem is sitting and eating at the table. Sit next to a right handed person and they throw their elbow out so lefties have to tuck in their elbow to eat. Makes me mad so I always try to sit on the left side of the end table.

I am so right handed I am an

I am so right handed I am an embarrassment to my left handed and left minded daughter. My left hand is decoration, therefore it serves the purpose of supporting my wedding band. It does come in handy when performing tasks involving tools...that requires holding the workpiece in place while shaping, sawing, drilling or screwing things together. While playing in baseball as a teenager...and actually until my early forties...I claimed to be a switch hitter. I could hit the ball further left handed than right-handed...but struck out 98% of the time left handed. I was finally handed my walking papers from the game of baseball. As after all this..I just realized I am holding my cell phone in my left hand while working the keyboard..you guessed it...with my right hand. Maybe I am partially ambidextrous.

Both parents right handed, 2

Both parents right handed, 2 kids left handed. When I was learning to print and write the teachers would take them out of my left hand, turn my paper to the "correct" position then leave. I turned them back to my way. My Dad even went to a teacher meeting and accused her of being a communist for trying to change me....... I loved him for that! I can pick up a glass and drink using right hand, but I am a lefty all the way.

I'd like to refer myself as

I'd like to refer myself as ambidextrous as I am a lefty but can use my right hand for many things such as throwing a ball with my right hand, bat right handed but catch with my left, hold my fork in my left hand, can use either hand to cut food with..but only my right hand with scissors. I think my hands are confused..lol

When it came to binders in school I would always have to take loose leaf out to write on the paper so my hand wouldn't be touching the binder rings as I wrote with my left hand but often practiced writing with my right hand as well. I've never been to a left handers store but I do think that would be interesting. :)

As a grammar school child of

As a grammar school child of the forties, I too went through the trial of being encouraged to write, right-handed. Unlike a Canadian friend that wound up in a school for retarded children when her left hand was strapped to her desk, I had no problems from the temporary trial.

Perhaps because of real ink pens, I learned to write with my wrist unbent.

High School drafting class lettering exercises were a problem...I had to reverse the arrows when doing certain letters.

One of the biggest trials came in my military service. As most lefties learn that most tools are built for right-handers, so were the personal weapons of war. More than once I had a super hot shell eject from my M-1 and land down the front of field jacket.

In later years, taking serious tests that required speed for employment, I learned that tests were designed for right-handers. The questions were on the left side of the page and the answer boxes were on the right. Your wrist covered up the next question while you were marking the multiple question box.

However, I think all of us lefties agree, that considering the disabilities of folks that we have known, being left-handed in a right-handed world is a minor hinderance. Hah! Unless you are seated, for dinner, at the right end of the table... Bud

I'm so left handed I can't do

I'm so left handed I can't do anything with my right hand. Can't brush mt teeth, comb my hair. I even have a hard time petting my cat. lol

I was originally left handed

I was originally left handed when I was in the first grade (age 7). At that time, I attended a catholic school and at that time my teacher (a nun) used to take a ruler and swat my hand when I tried to write with my left hand; that happened every day during that school year. I was forced to learn to write with my right hand. I'm now 55 years old and I'm now both left as well as right handed. I have a now 25 year-old son who is left handed as was his dad.

I AM LEFT HANDED,BUT USE MY

I AM LEFT HANDED,BUT USE MY RIGHT HAND ALSO. When I was little, I would use my left hand. So in the house my Mom would switch the spoon, and pencil to my right hand. Now I write with my right hand and eat with my right hand, use scissors with my right hand. Anyway most of the activities in the house are righted. Out side i mostly use my left hand. I guess you could say I am a left/right hander. I don't feel that all this has affected my life.

I'm left-handed, butt

I'm left-handed, butt teachers tried to make me switch. Thankfully my dad didn't allow it. So to this day I am still a lefty and proud of it even with all the jokes I have to put up with.

I'm a righty but I'm goofy

I'm a righty but I'm goofy footed. I'm goofy in general when it comes to handedness as I'm all over the place sometimes. I do some things with my left hand such as opening jars. I write and do most other things with my right. I found my left arm is stronger than my right which is why I open jars better with my left. I strictly eat with my left while cutting with a knife. It's a lot of trouble to shift the utensils. But when no knife is involved I go righty. In grade school I used to bat switch for fun. Didn't know it was special or unusual. Although I prefer to bat right. But I can't throw well with my left. I've done some tests that determine I'm both brained. Makes sense considering I'm well rounded with learning subjects and I'm quite artistic and creative. In Jr. Highly I started writing in math class with my left for fun and found I picked it up quite quickly. Easier with number than letters though.
I have three boys and two are left handed. My righty is goofy footed like me. My dad was a lefty and so are many others on my dads side. I encourage all my boys to try learn some things both ways to be more flexible. But I don't push it too much. My house is 2/5th lefty, 2/5th goofy and my husband is a pure righty. It's not difficult for me to teach lefty stuff to my lefty boys but can be daunting for my husband sometimes. So I feel we are pretty well rounded in my home and no one gets 'left' behind.

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