Coping With Being Left Handed

Being left handed can sometimes be a drag. This is because almost all hand-held devices, such as tools, have been designed with a right-handed individual in mind. This is because everything has been created to accommodate a right-handed society. In fact, most right-handed people don’t even recognize that things have been made specifically for them. It’s just the way that things are, and since they work so easily for right-handed people, it becomes second nature. Why all the discrimination against lefties? Based on the standards of tradition, the right hand has always been preferred to the left.

Of course, today we live in a totally different world. Now it’s no longer an issue if someone is a left hander. At least, not an issue as far as being judged by society, or having left handed tools available. This was not at all the case in the past, however, science has shown us that it is perfectly natural for some people to be left handed. If parents discover that their child prefers to use their left hand over their right, many medical authorities strongly encourage parents to not change this natural process. There is nothing wrong with a child using their left hand. It simply takes a little more guidance when it comes to developing handwriting skills.

There are now more left handed people in the world than ever before. After all, as the population rises, so do the number of left handed people. A recent study shows that the number of people who primarily use their left hand is on a steady rise. In fact, as much as 10-15% of the population is left handed. That’s more than one in ten! Therefore, if you don’t happen to be left handed yourself, you likely know someone who is.

While being left handed isn’t a big deal anymore, once upon a time it was extremely frowned upon. For instance, in India and Indonesia, it is considered extremely impolite to eat with the left hand, as this is the hand that is used to “cleanse” oneself. Therefore, the left hand is considered dirty. In addition, teachers in America used to slap the wrists of students who attempted to write with their left hands.

Aside from past ridicule of society, lefties also face many other struggles when it comes to using scissors, knives, cameras, tools, watches, etc. Every one of these objects need the complete opposite design in order to accommodate the needs of a lefty. Fortunately, left handers of today are treated with much more consideration, and virtually any tool can be designed for left handed individuals.

Therefore, if you use your left hand over your right, or your child does, this is quite natural, and shouldn’t be something for you to worry about. Just make sure that you provide your child with all of the help they need to make the most of their abilities. Remember, there is nothing wrong about being left handed, event though it can sometimes prove to be difficult in a world with a predominant right handed population.

Finally, there are now many gadgets and everyday items (like left handed scissors) which can also make you life easier and make ideal gifts.

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Published in: on July 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hand Dominance – Will She Be a Lefty or Righty?

Hand dominance is a term that describes your child’s preference to use the right or left hand to perform most tasks in her daily live. These task can range from holding a spoon, or stacking blocks, to drawing and writing. The hand that is dominant is not necessarily stronger than the other one. Your child just prefers to use it to do most things.

Consistent hand dominance starts to develop somewhere between two and three years of age. This development is usually fully completed by age 6 years. As the brain matures and its functions begin to differentiate, you will notice that hand dominance begins to emerge in your child. Hand preference that appears before the age of 18 months may signal impaired neurological control of the other hand and a health care provider should be consulted. Since hand preference is determined by your child’s brain development, “forcing” your child to use the non-dominant hand more often may me futile.

Hand dominance is determined largely by genetics. Studies show that only 2% of children of right-handed parents are left-handed. On the other hand, 42% of children with left-handed parents are left-handed.

In the history of many nations, being left handed was associated with social stigma. In many languages, including English, the word “right” also means “correct” or “proper.” On the other hand, the Latin word “sinistra,” from which the English word sinister was derived, meant “left,” “malicious,” or “sinister.” Being a righty or a lefty has nothing to do with being a good person. However, being ambidextrous may come in handy from time to time!

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Published in: on May 27, 2010 at 9:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Betta Splendens Are Right And Left Handed?

What?! The Betta Splendens, better known as betta fish to the tropical fish hobbyist, actually shows left- and right-handed preferences? In raising bettas for twenty years, I do not think I have ever noticed this or given it much thought for that matter, but lead researcher Yuichi Takeuchi of “Behavioural Brain Research” has studies that show exactly that. Takeuchi also explains that the studies show a corresponding body symmetry as well.

This may mean that bettas have a “good side” and “bad side” just as we humans think we do when taking pictures. In these studies, Takeuchi wanted to answer three questions:

  • When flaring, or showing aggression, did betta splendens consistently favor one side or another to present to his opponent?
  • Are there differences in the appearance or physical characteristics in betta fish from left to right side?
  • Are differences in bettas’ body shape directly linked to which side the fish displayed when flaring (showing aggression)?

As it turns out, bettas were the perfect candidate for such a test because they show hyped-out aggressive behavior patterns at predictable times and can easily be made to enter this type of behavior. When male bettas see another male betta, or even other species of fish that resembles a male betta, they extend their fins and tail as high and long as possible, puff out their chest, and will even attack if the fish is in the same tank.

In the first phase of the experiment, Takeuchi noticed that when placed in an eight-sided betta tank with mirrored walls, a little more than half the betta fish showed a left or right-sided inclination for their aggressive behavioral displays of aggressions. “Right-handed” bettas were more likely to flare their right sided gill covers, and left dominant bettas the left side.

In the next stage, the researchers looked for tiny differences in the physical makeup of the fish. They paid special attention to the angle at which the fish’s spine contacted its head. The vast majority of betta splendens had a sever right or left bend to their backbone.

Lastly, Takeuchi then looked at both sets of data in respect to the other. Did the bettas prefer their right or left side because of the bend in their backbone, or did they get the bend because they had favored that side in the first place? Amazingly, the fish that preferred one side or the other had a bend in that direction.

Dr Claire Inness posted this news on Practical Fishkeeping.

Want to know all about betta fish, and total betta care? Check out the Betta Blog at for more great Betta Fish news and articles.

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Published in: on May 21, 2010 at 6:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Bill Of Rights – Where’s The Bill Of Lefts?

Isn’t it time left-handed people had a Bill of Rights – or should we say, Bill of Lefts?

Until the 20th century was well advanced, Lefties had to behave as Righties if they wanted to get on in life, in spite of having a large contingent of famous people on their side, including such geniuses as Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein.

But having famous people on your side was no good to you when it came to using scissors, corkscrews, wrenches, phone booths, power saws, can openers, vegetable peelers, slot machines, violins, guitars, fishing reels, bowling balls, pencil sharpeners, saxophones and banjos – all made for right-handed people.

It’s only in the last couple of decades that Lefties have been able to shop for left-handed goods at ‘left-handed shops.’ These stock can openers, ladles, secateurs, and of course, scissors for people whose bent is left. (Generously, you can even find a pair of ambidextrous nail scissors.)

But the dexterity of left-handers, or rather, their sinistrality, is still hampered more by the negative connotations of words that relate to what is a mere accident of birth. About ten percent of the population are left-handed – maybe this is where the gay community got their figure of ten percent, since a disproportionately large number of gays are left-handed.

Lefties have had to face what can only be described as the most longstanding of negative presses. Very early on in history the Greeks regarded left-handedness as being as valuable as right. And the Romans thought that an augury favouring the left would do them the world of good – until augurers themselves fell out of favour. When they became politically correct again a curious thing had happened: the right had become the ‘right’ side, and left was left out, pretty much for good.

Now when the Romans put their best-foot forward it was always the right – they wouldn’t dare step over a threshold with the left foot first. They always shook hands with the right – partly to prove that they didn’t have a weapon in it. (The advantage for Lefties was that they could still conceal their weapon if necessary). They made a right-handed salute, which 2000 years later became the sign of the Fascist state.

It hasn’t helped that in some cultures the left-hand was always used for the more unpleasant tasks relating to the body. People in some cultures only ever touched food with the right because the left was used for wiping the rear end (and that’s still the case in much of the Arabic world).

The innocent-sounding word, cack-handed, which relates to anyone who fumbles, (and by connotation, therefore, to left-handers, who often fumble with right-handed appliances), actually has a much more unpleasant meaning. Cack is a word for excrement. The person who uses their ‘cack’ hand is definitely out of favour.

Whether it relates to the excremental aspect or not, many words for left-handers have a tinge of insult about them. Being left-handed means being subject to a continual slur on your character because language is widely anti-Leftist.

Left-handed in English at one time meant that you dealt in an under-handed way. It’s always had connotations with crippled, defective, awkward, clumsy, inapt. The French gauche runs along similar lines, and of course has been adopted into English to add another word to the battery of anti-left-hand words.

Left-handed has also meant ambiguous, doubtful, questionable, and in medical language, spurious. It’s meant ill-omened, inauspicious, and sinister – even though sinister, a Latin word, originally meant nothing more sinister than ‘left hand.’

Roget (who, in spite of his French sounding name, was English, born in Soho) aligns left-handed with clumsy, awkward, gawkish, stuttering, stammering, tactless, indiscriminating, lubberly, unhandy, all thumbs, butter-fingered and thick-fingered.

And he reminds us that a left-handed compliment is one with a sting in its tail.

But the Brits are by no means alone in their approach, as I hinted above. The Australians added an insulting aspect of their own, calling a left-hander a molly-dooker. A molly is an effeminate man, and ‘dukes’ is the slang for fists or hands.

These are just the merest sample of anti-left words that exist in the world’s languages. It isn’t surprising then, with all this abuse being hurled at them, that the Lefties need a Bill of their own. Here are a few suggestions of what might be included.

  1. Firstly, the use of discriminatory and defamatory language needs to be put away. If we can manage to get rid of words that offend women and people with disabilities, we should be able to remove words that imply left-handedness is somehow lesser, or evil.
  2. Secondly, all training establishments should be required to provide tools and equipment for the use of left-handed people, from scissors to band-saws.
  3. Thirdly, any person, whether parent, guardian, teacher, (or anyone else in authority) should be required to treat left-handed children with the same respect as right-handed ones. In the West, we’re moved some distance from the days when children had their left-hands tied behind their back or marked by a coloured ribbon so that they would only the ‘right’ hand, but there’s still some way to go.
  4. Fourthly, August the 13th of each year shall be celebrated as International Lefthanders’ Day. Why August the 13th? One explanation is that it was chosen in 1976 by the man who started Lefthanders’ International, mainly because it was his birthday, but also because there were no other major holidays around it.

Another explanation is that the 13th of August fell on a Friday in 1976 and it was a way of poking fun at the superstitions and oddball myths that have surrounded left-handedness for centuries. (Unfortunately the date is shared with Skinny Dipping Day, Blame Somebody Else Day, National Filet Mignon Day, and was also the day on which “Yes, we have no bananas’ reached Number One on the Hit Parade. )

Left-Hander’s International went out of business in 1998, but another group, Left Hand Publishing, has felt an obligation to keep the holiday alive. Annually, they send out thousands of press releases about the day, and have tried to get people to be serious about this holiday and the issues it represents.

Some Lefties in the US aren’t happy with their progress towards acceptance, and they’ve considered forming an equal Lefts movement. These revolutionaries would require left-handedness to be considered a disability, (with all the benefits that might accrue.)

Furthermore, they think manufacturers should provide left-handed models of every possible product, and that firms should be required to hire a percentage of left-handed people.

Whether this is a fanciful group or not, the point is that Lefties have had centuries of put-down, and it’s time as much effort was made to make them feel a normal part of the human race, as has been spent on other minorities in the last thirty years.

Copyright Mike Crowl 2006

Mike Crowl is the author of a number of articles on a variety of topics, and wrote a weekly column for five and a half years. He enjoys writing about lefthandedness, although he himself is mostly righthanded. His blog looks at all manner of subjects, from music and the arts to the amazing variety of sites on the Web.

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Published in: on May 18, 2010 at 5:48 am  Leave a Comment