Friday, February 18, 2005

Lefty or Righty-Click for chart

Hard to do isn't it?

Why are most people right-handed? They tell us that the right side of your brain controls the left side of your body, and vise-versa. Are left-handed people cognitively different from right-handers? Around ten percent of Americans are left-handed (including my sister Teresa and her daughter) and of those, there are twice as many lefty males as females. Cats and parrots have general tendencies toward their left paws and claws; rats and monkeys tend to be right-pawed. A study of ultrasound pictures of 270 fetuses (from 1 month to 9 months) revealed that 92% sucked their right thumb while in the womb.

What does left-handedness mean, practically speaking? Medical literature reports that lefties are more accident prone, are more likely to have their fingers amputated by power-tools, suffer more wrist fractures. Lefties are also more susceptible to allergies, auto-immune diseases, bed-wetting, depression, drug abuse, epilepsy, hypnotism, low birth weight, schizophrenia, sleeping disorders, suicide attempts, and certain learning disabilities. Lefties are six times likelier to die in an accident, and four times to likelier to die while driving.
Not only that, but Jack the Ripper was left-handed, the name of the Aztec war god, Huitzilopochtli, means "left-handed hummingbird," and left-handedness was at one time illegal in Albania. Centuries ago, the Catholic Church declared left-handed people to be servants of the Devil. For generations, left-handed children who attended Catholic schools were forced to become right-handed. Only a few decades ago in Japan, left-handedness in a wife was sufficient grounds for divorce. The wedding ring is placed on the left hand in order to chase away evil spirits that may haunt the marriage. In Arab nations, the right hand is used to touch parts of the body above the waist, while the left hand is used for below the navel, and to touch someone else with your left hand was a serious insult. Bedouins segregate the women to the left side of the tent to keep the right side free for the men. (Making it fairly obvious to determine which gender is considered more important.) Natives on the Guinea coast never touch their left thumbs to their beer mugs, in the belief that it would poison the beverage. Maori women weave ceremonial cloth with the right hand, because to use the left hand would profane and curse the cloth - the penalty for using the left hand is death. African tribes along the Niger river do not allow their women to prepare food with the left hand for fear of poisonous sorcery.

Even languages from around the world show how civilizations prefer the right over the left. The word "left" comes from an Old English word meaning "weak" or "worthless" The Italian word "mancino" is translated to "deceitful" well as "left". "No ser zurdo" is a Spanish phrase meaning "to be very clever", which is literally translated to mean "not to be left-handed". In English, the word "adroit" is commonly used to mean "proper" or "correct". In French, the word "adroit" means "right". The English usage of the word "gauche" is accepted as meaning "clumsy", or "awkward". In French, it is translated to mean "left". Our word "dexterous" comes from the Roman word "dexter", which in turn means "right". The Roman word for "left" is "sinister", and the phrase meaning "masturbation" is translated to "left-handed whore". "Linkisch" is German for "awkward" and "left".

I got to playing with the color chart at the beginning of this article, and couldn't stop. Maybe that explains the old quip "If the left side of the brain controls the right hand, then does that mean that only left handed people are in their right mind?"

By Junebugg at Wasted Days, Wasted Nights- a great site (sidebar link added soon)


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