Sunday, November 25, 2007

To be Left Handed or Not to be

My sister was born left handed but was trained to become right handed because it was the school policy that every one must write with the right hand. No one stopped that. She is intelligent, and good with her hands. But deep down in her, she is a left hander. She can use her left hand fairly well all these years.

When my eldest daughter was in Primary One, her teacher too insisted that she must learn to use the right hand. But as a mother I was adamant not to make write with her right hand. The teacher called me stupid. And my daughter was not too well treated by her subsequently. But my daughter thrived in her own way. Later, we found that six of her friends remained left handers. All of them have good professions after they obtained their degrees. Some even had two or three degrees under their belt.

My second daughter is left handed too. Because four years have passed since her sister was in Primary One,some of the teachers had been already informed about differences in children and had relented about left handers. So she started her primary school without any problem with writing.

But when we were transferred to Miri,we did meet one teacher who despised kids who were left handed. She went on a vendetta against them, and my second daughter was often beaten. This was very unfair to the left handed kids. They were not lepers! They should not have been treated so badly. But no one said anything bad about the teacher. They just let her be!! But my daughter would never forget the bad treatment. It traumatised her until today.

One of the strongest arguments against left handers is that they cannot write good Chinese calligraphy using their left hand. It makes sense because Chinese calligraphy is written from the right to the left and pages of books are opened from the left to the right. Furthermore the characters are often composites of strokes which are formed from left to right. A left hander would find this brush work awkward to say the least.

Years later I found out that there were specialty shops for left handers in Europe. How considerate these people are!! While many Asians are still trying their best to get their children to use their right hand, psychologists the world over are teaching about left brain, right brain intelligences, etc.

It is difficult to overcome prejudices in a society that is not very open. In our society left handers are still not "the same" as the others.

But generally speaking,with references obtained from documentated articles "some left-handed people consider themselves oppressed, even to the point of prejudice".

Here are some abstracts to share with you about left handedness.

Etymology often lends weight to the argument:

In many European languages, "right" stands for authority and justice: German and Dutch, recht, French, droit, Spanish, diestro; in most Slavic languages the root prav is used in words carrying meanings of correctness or justice. Being right-handed has also historically been thought of as being skillful: the Latin word for right-handed is "dexter," as in dexterity; indeed, the Spanish term diestro means both "right-handed" and "skillful".

Meanwhile, the English word "sinister" comes from Latin and it originally meant "left" but took on meanings of "evil" or "unlucky" by time of the Classical Latin era. "Sinister" comes from the Latin word sinus meaning "pocket": a traditional Roman toga had only one pocket, located on the left side for the convenience of a right-handed wearer. The contemporary Italian word sinistra has both meanings of sinister and left. The Spanish siniestra has both, too, although the 'left' meaning is less common and is usually expressed by 'izquierda,'[15] a Basque word. The German word for left is links, and the adjective link in German has the meaning of "slyly" or "devious", while linken means "to betray" or "to cheat" (sb.).

A left-hander was supposed to be not only unlucky, but also awkward and clumsy, as shown in the French gauche and the German links and linkisch. As these are all very old words, they support theories indicating that the predominance of right-handedness is an extremely old phenomenon.In Portuguese, the most common word for left-handed person, canhoto, was once used to identify the devil, and canhestro, a related word, means "clumsy".

In ancient China, the left has been the "bad" side. The adjective "left" (左 Mandarin: zuo) means "improper" or "out of accord." For instance, the phrase "left path" (左道 Mandarin: zuodao) stands for illegal or immoral means. In some parts of China, some adults can still remember suffering for the "crime" (with suitable traumatic punishments) of not learning to be right-handed in both primary and secondary schools, as well as in some "keeping-good-face" families.

In Norwegian, the expression venstrehåndsarbeid (left-hand work) means "something that is done in a sloppy or insatisfactory way".

Even the word "ambidexterity" reflects the bias. Its intended meaning is, "skillful at both sides." However, since it keeps the Latin root "dexter," which means "right," it ends up conveying the idea of being "right-handed at both sides."

Cross-dominance, also known as mixed-handedness, mixed dominance and cross laterality, is a motor skills manifestation in which a person not necessarily being truly ambidextrous favors one hand for some crucial and precise fine motor skill operations and the other hand for others tasks. It can be readily observed, for example, in some police force members who hold a pistol with one hand and write with the other.

It can also refer to mixed laterality, which refers to a person favoring eyes, ears, feet, or hands on opposite sides of the body. Cross-dominance can often be a problem when shooting or in activities that require aim, as the mind usually focuses on a side.

I would like to end with a personal note that being left handed definitely has its downsides but most left handers are very intelligent people who need to feel accepted like any one of us right handers. Their lives may be a little difficult or awkward, but they do make do with what is available.

The lefties are like anyone of us!! What if God is left handed?

2 memories:

Greg Wee said...

Hi Sarawakiana, I've added you to my Ah Beng's World blog. Have you considered adding in the chatbox & sitemeter to keep track of how many readers & where they come from? It'd be good for us readers to be able to get to know one another & get into the discussions here. :) Just a thought.

sarawakiana said...

thank you for writing. How do I add chatbox and sitemeter?

would appreciate that from you.

What would you and Nee be cooking up for Christmas? Just asking....



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