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Being left handed (also known as a southpaw) in a right handed world is not easy.  Some of the simplest tasks become more difficult for 10% of the world’s population.  While there really isn’t a definitive reason why some of us are left handed, it is thought to be genetic and to run in families. Although going back in my ancestry I have yet to find another lefty.
Text: Lefty Bruce Kahn

netics and the brain control left handedness.  For example the brain has two lobes … the left lobe, which controls the right hand side of the body, and the right lobe, which controls the left side. Because of the right side brain dominance, lefties tend to be holistic thinkers, creative and more visual thinkers than righties.  Many left handers are in creative fields. Righties tend to be linear thinkers and are good in language, logic, writing, math and science. As for me I am a very visual thinker and learn best by use of pictures, diagrams and drawings.  Although I am left handed,  I tend to golf, bat a ball or throw a basketball with my right hand.  While my tennis game is not very good, I hold the racket with my left hand, but if a ball comes to my right side instead of using a back hand swing, I actually switch the racket to the right hand.  Go figure!

Many lefties are not 100% lefty and do some functions with their right hand.  Only about 1% of the population is truly ambidextrous.  I can do some things with my right hand… however, if you asked me to eat with my right hand, I’d go hungry!

I was in a shop in Nassau, Bahamas about 30 years ago and was writing out a post card. I saw the  sales clerk laughing. I asked her what was so funny and she said she had never seen anyone write with the left hand. I was told that in school left handed writing was not permitted and you would be “forced” to change hands.

There are many negative connotations associated with the phrase “left-handed”: clumsy, awkward, unlucky, insincere, sinister, malicious, and so on. A “left-handed compliment” is considered one that is unflattering or dismissive in meaning. In French, gauche means both “left” and “awkward” or “clumsy”, while droit(e) (cognate to English direct and related to “adroit“) means both “right” and “straight”, as well as “law” and the legal sense of “right”. The name “Dexter” derives from the Latin for “right”, as does the word “dexterity”, meaning manual skill. As these are all very old words, they would tend to support theories indicating that the predominance of right-handedness is an extremely old phenomenon.

Here’s a list of some of the worst things we lefties have to endure!

Spiral ring notebooks or 3-hole binders all have the rings on the left side, which hurts your hand and makes it difficult to write.

● When a lefty writes with a pen or a pencil, his/her hand trails over the words previously written. Depending on the pen or pencil in question, this can lead to smudges all over the paper and the left hand.

● Don’t sit next to a righty when eating dinner or else you will be hitting elbows all through the meal.

● Many kitchen gadgets are a problem.  While most cans today have pull rings on them,  if you must use a handheld can-opener you will find they are set up to be cranked with the right hand.

● Many power tools, when held with the left hand, can be very harmful. For example, a circular saw blows sawdust to the right, which is very convenient for a right-hander, but when held in the left hand, makes a mess.

● Most baseball gloves are made for right handed people.  A left handed glove is a specialty item.

● Have you noticed that lecture hall type desks in schools/universities have a table on the right side (and usually made for skinny people  … but that’s another issue!)

There are also many superstitions and myths related to being left handed.

Many people believed that pouring a drink or passing it with your left hand was bad luck.   Also, if you give a toast holding the glass in your left hand it is considered to be placing a curse on the persons you are toasting.  (I wonder if there is a relationship between divorces and left handed toasts!)

Seamstresses consider it to be bad luck if they attach the left sleeve before sewing on the right one.

Which foot do you place on the floor first when getting out of bed?  Many people believe that getting out of bed left foot first will result in your having a bad day!  Have you heard the expression about starting off on the right foot?

If you have an itch on your left palm this means you owe someone money, whereas if it’s on your right palm you will be the one receiving the cash.

In Roman times people believed that evil spirits would hover over your left shoulder, so people would throw some salt over their left shoulder (a very precious commodity) to appease the devil.

The tradition of wearing your wedding ring on the left hand was started by Romans, who used the ring to ward off evil associated with the left.

Do you ever experience a ringing in your ears?  Apparently if it’s in your right ear this means that someone is praising you, whereas if it’s in your left someone is busy cursing you!

If you are going travelling and your left foot itches you are going to have a bad day and an itch on your right foot indicates a good day and a pleasant journey.

Some fun facts to ponder!

Many lefties are faster typists.  On a standard “qwerty” keyboard there are about 3400 words that can be typed solely with the left hand, compared to 450 words solely with the right hand. (This made me think … I am a pretty fast typist, but use only one finger on the right hand, but I do use all 5 on the left!)

Studies show that most people veer to the right if there are multiple lines to choose from, but lefties tend to choose the lines to the left.  They say, left-sided lines are usually shorter.

Choosing your seat at dinner not only can help to avoid bumping elbows, but also gives you the best seat with the most room.  (This unfortunately doesn’t work with round tables.)

Being a lefty makes it easier to write in Arabic languages and Hebrew which are written from right to left.

In baseball, lefties have the advantage of being one step closer to first base, whereas righties need to take one step to turn before they race to first base.

It is also said that lefties can see easier underwater.

Lefties are better at multi-tasking and at playing video games.

Left handed people have an easier time learning how to drive on the right side and toll booths and drive-thru windows in most countries are on the left side.

In 1992 the Left Handers Club was founded and established August 13th as International Left Handers Day.  A day to celebrate and make people aware of our difference!  So, on the 13th you will find me in a Pub celebrating with my fellow lefties!

Some Famous Left Handed People

Barack Obama (US President)
Bill Clinton (US President)
Steve Forbes (Businessman)
Prince Charles of England
Prince William of England
Jack-the-Ripper (Serial Killer)
Paul McCartney (Musician)
Ringo Starr (Musician)
Paul Simon (Musician)
Jean Genet (Novelist)
Kurt Cobain (Musician)
Phil Collins (Musician)
Michelangelo (Artist)
LeRoy Neiman (Artist)
Raphael (Artist)
Leonardo da Vinci (Artist)

And many more!



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Left Handed in a Right Handed World

It is not easy being a left-handed person in a right-handed world. Some of the simplest tasks become more difficult for 10% of the world’s population. We do not know for certain why some people are left-handed, but it seems to be genetic. Genetics and the brain, seem to control left-handedness. Lefties tend to be more creative and more visual thinkers than righties. However, many lefties are not 100% lefty and do some things with their right hand. But only about 1% of the population is truly ambidextrous.

Being left-handed has many negative connotations associated with it as well as various myths and superstitions. For example, if you pass someone a drink with your left hand it is bad luck or if you give a toast while holding the glass in your left hand you are actually placing a curse on the persons you are toasting. And life is not easy for left-handers, many power tools can be dangerous if used with the left hand and normal things like spiral ring notebooks hurt your hand and make it difficult to write. But today there is a Left Handers Club and an International Left Handers Day to make people more aware of the differences.


 

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Left handed in a right handed world

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Grammar in Use

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Intermediate: Time Markers in the Simple Past

Advanced: Phrasal Verb Take in 2

Vocabulary

lefties vs righties

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