Saturday, 13 August 2011

International Left-Handers Day

I am left-handed and today is International Left-Handers Day. I am in two minds about the necessity of such a day.

On the one hand, if it means that right-handers take a look around the world, realise that it is ergonomically designed with them in mind and therefore any number of tasks that they take for granted are more complicated for left-handers. Despite the existence of left-handed scissors I cannot and have never successfully cut paper with a straight line. My school had no left-handed scissors so I made the best of right-handed ones (and since the scissors in primary schools would struggle to cut through paper at all it barely seemed to matter), but when I eventually did use left-handed scissors I found that I couldn't make them work for me. I am glad that left-handed rulers are also available, which is something I would imagine most right-handers can't even understand the need for.

On the other hand (see what I did there?), I feel that far from acknowledging left-handers this could easily be a way of mocking them. Like the array of available left-handed gag gifts that are available. A note to anyone ever thinking of buying me a present, I never, repeat never want any of the following: left-handed clocks, left-handed mugs, left-handed playing cards, left-handed calendars, etc. They demean us all.

I have on occasion encountered what I suppose would be termed discrimination as a result of my left-handedness. I don't mean to make this sound as though it has been a problem for me, but it is interesting how it ranges from playful jibes about being 'cackhanded' to a particularly nasty incident where I was told in no uncertain terms that I was evil by an old woman who was probably mad.

Representations of left-handedness in fiction, good or bad, are few and far between in current popular culture and this can only be a good thing, because it isn't worth drawing too much attention to. The same cannot be said of classic literature, for example if anyone does something untoward in Grimm's Fairy Tales, they do it with their left hand.

The English word left comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lyft which means weak or useless. The French word for left is gauche, which is also used to mean awkward or tactless. The Latin word from which the English word sinister was derived, means left.

The English word right comes from the Anglo-Saxon word riht which also means straight or correct, and the word still has both connotations today.

Not even Ambidextrous is without inference as it could be translated from the Latin as meaning having two right hands, while the bearer of two left feet is clearly not destined to be a dancer.

I didn't need to point any of this out, but today is International Left-Handers Day so I did.


Trisha said...

My mother is left-handed, but I'm pretty sure most other people in my family aren't. I may have a cousin who is...

Dave said...

Say hello from me.