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

Reader Comments

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I'm left handed. I only

I'm left handed. I only write, eat, brush my hair, and brush my teeth left handed. I always have to put scissors in each hand to determine which hand to use. I'm not very crafty. I play sports right handed. I loved the few left handed desks that were available in college. I like the left handed note books too!

Ever notice how many lawyers

Ever notice how many lawyers are left handed? 1/3 of my law school class was left handed. I work in an office with 12 other attorneys and we are all left handed.

I'm a lawyer too and have

I'm a lawyer too and have noticed that as well.

as a lefty I've noticed that

as a lefty I've noticed that in any sort of work where a helper is needed especially for lifting and moving projects or materials your right handed partner will report after a period of time that working with another right hander is frustrating and dangerous....as a left hander your right arm becomes stronger than a natural right handers arm because all fine motor skills are done with the left and the right does all the lifting and holding....living in a right handed world is dangerous unless as a lefty you are willing to learn to use things like chain saws right handed, just one example but there are many....life is good

I am left-handed, but in this

I am left-handed, but in this right-handed world, I have learned to be a little right-handed as well. I cut meat with my right hand....but for the life of me, I can not butter bread or spread jelly with my right hand.....only the left hand will do!! :)

Definitely a lefty. I drive

Definitely a lefty. I drive people at work crazy by putting the computer mouse on the left side.

Two favorite random lefty-related stories...

Once, when working in a theatre company, in the middle of a production meeting, I realized that of the 18 people around the table, 11 were left-handed. Statistically weird, and perhaps an argument for the whole "lefties are creative" theory.

Second, the day before my first day of university teaching, I went into my empty classroom just to see it before the first day of class. The maintenance staff had emptied all the rooms to clean the floors, and when they put the desks back, had put ALL the left handed desks in my room, so the majority of desks were lefties. Kinda funny.

I am left handed but right

I am left handed but right footed. Always been this way. Sure would like to be a member of the club in the UK.

I'm left-handed when I sit,

I'm left-handed when I sit, but if I stand,I use my right. And when I play tennis,I have no backhand. Instead I have two forehands.

I am a proud leftie as well.

I am a proud leftie as well. They say that only left handed people think with the right side of their brain. Cheers for the Southpaws!

I am a leftie and so is one

I am a leftie and so is one of my brothers. I have always been told the Left handed people the right side of the brain is in control. and Right handed people use WHAT IS LEFT OVER. I am very creative and enjoy being left handed.

the only thing I do left

the only thing I do left handed is wright. Play ball /golf/drink/sew/everything except write. To bad

I'm a lefty. In high school

I'm a lefty. In high school I worked at a grocery, I ran a register. I had to learn to use it with my right hand, I got good at it. Still today I can only use a calculator with my right hand. I fractured my right wrist and I was in a cast. I had a hard time using the calculator with my left. I can do two things at once, write left and calculate right.

I'm ambidextrous. When is

I'm ambidextrous. When is ambidextrous day?

I've observed that many

I've observed that many creative people are lefties. Also good presidents. Perhaps that's why Clinton and Obama are lefties. They are to the left of centre.

I'm left handed all the

I'm left handed all the things that I want to takes or hold Its always left hand first.I remember when I was in primary school my mother do for me special "left armed chair" coz its hard for me to write in right armed chair.So Im proud to be liftie its mean Im special.

The Bible considers left

The Bible considers left handed soldiers superior to right handed ones. I believe it's due to the element of surprise in drawing a sword in battle.

I'm a lefty and I have

I'm a lefty and I have trouble using many kitchen tools. Especially older ones. Old ladles only have a pour spout on one side so lefties can't make it work. Very hard to ladle hot jam into jars using my right hand. Too many things to list here.

I am married to a lefty ,

I am married to a lefty , and he can not see the man in the moon. I started asking other lefties if they could see the man in the moon . 9 out of 10 of lefties could not see the man in the moon .

I have found that the world

I have found that the world is made for right handed people especially when it comes to tools and kitchen appliances...ever tried to open a can using an old fashioned can opener using your left hand? odd for me though is that if I play golf or softball, I do what a right handed person would do

I am a lefty, and cannot do

I am a lefty, and cannot do much of anything with my right hand. I think it is funny that the article says that only 10-12% of the world's population is left handed and then goes no to state that it isn't uncommon for identical twins to have opposite predominant handedness. If there are only 10-12% of us out of the total population then nothing about left handedness is common, lol

What a good story, my husband

What a good story, my husband and I are both left handed. So when you come to visit with us everything is setup for left handed people.

My grandpa was left handed

My grandpa was left handed and forced to switch to being right handed. He ended up with balance and inner ear problems. I learned how to do things by watching my great grandma and other elders as if I were watching through a mirror instead of side by side. It just seemed easier for me to learn that way. I am proud to be left handed as is my son.

I am left handed, but I only

I am left handed, but I only write n eat with left hand. Any sport activities I do I use my right hand. Everyone made fun of me being left handed but I that is was cool because I was different from everyone else

I also only eat and write

I also only eat and write with my left hand. I think I play sports right handed because the people who taught me how to play were right handed. I like being ambidextrous because a true lefty has to use special scissors or kitchen tools, etc.

I am a leftie. And we are all

I am a leftie. And we are all special. I was even born backwards. Feet first. I am the only one in my family that is left handed. Things can be a challenge. God bless those special persons that make our world beautiful.

When I was starting in

When I was starting in school, they were totally against a person being left handed. Every time I put a pencil in my left hand, it would be smacked away by the teacher, or jerked out of my hand and placed in my right hand. I was young so this really scared me and made me think something was bad wrong with me. I told my Dad, he went to the school, never happened again. Moral of the story, depends on what I am doing on which hand I do what with. Never understood why they didn't want me left handed.

I am a left hander and proud

I am a left hander and proud of it. I remember my Mom thinking she may have caused it with my brother and I because she was left handed but, my younger sister and brother are right handed. I wanted one of my daughter's to be left handed but each time I would hand them a spoon or fork or what ever into there left hand they would switch it to there right hand....So I know my Mother didn't cause us to be left handed. I see no problem really being left handed these days. After 57 years I think I have aclimated to the right handed world!! LOL!

I'm a lefty but other then

I'm a lefty but other then writing I use my right hand for pretty much everything else!!!!!

Two of my three children are

Two of my three children are left-handed. The other is very right-handed just like me. Although, because I'm so right-handed, I taught the lefties to use either hand. My daughter does almost everything but eat and write, right-handed. My son uses his right hand for certain things. Their daddy was one of those who was changed from leftie to righty.

I'm a leftie! Ever heard the

I'm a leftie! Ever heard the expression, "Only left-handed people are in their right mind!"

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