As Rose Eveleth explains in a brief piece titled Two-Thirds of the World Still Hates Lefties: “Even the word left comes from ‘lyft’ which meant broken. The German words ‘linkisch’ also means awkward. The Russian word ‘levja’ is associated with being untrustworthy. Synonyms for left in Mandarin are things like weird, incorrect and wrong.” Meanwhile, “right” has mostly positive associations (e.g. “correct”). The history here is long, and not just linguistic — in the Middle Ages, witchcraft was sometimes associated with left-handedness as well.99percentinvisible.org
The 13th of August is international left-handers day. I find the selection of that day to represent all the people who share my digital disfigurement to be strangely apropos. Thirteen is supposedly a bad number because the twelve disciples plus Jesus equals thirteen people at an event. There are many buildings that do not have a thirteenth floor. Friday the thirteenth is supposedly an unlucky day. Today is Lefthanders Day, an unlucky day on the most ominous day of the week. How fortuitous for those of us who celebrate this kind of oddity.
The thirteenth is my lucky day. I was born on the thirteenth. I got married on the thirteenth because the wife insists I remember things that fall on the thirteenth day of the month. She also scheduled the births of our children (C-sections are like that) for the thirteenth of the month. It isn’t her fault the children didn’t actually emerge on those days (birth is like that) So when Friday the thirteenth rolls around I enjoy the double-whammy of good luck; my favorite day of the week and my favorite day of the month combined into one great day to celebrate. Celebrate your weirdness. Instead of triskaidekaphobia embrace triskaidekaphilia in the presence of that sinister friend of yours:
While much of the world has at least accepted left-handedness in modern times, there were long periods in many countries in which left-handed children would have their tied hands behind backs in to “retrain” them. Intentions were good, in theory — kids were supposed to be prepared for a right-handed world, or so went the thinking. Paul Broca’s breakthroughs regarding the lateralization of the brain in the 1800s were a first step in recognizing the scientific reality of left-handedness, but research was slow to expand well into the 1900s.99percentinvisible.org
None of us are normal. None of us are average:
Today, we take for granted that equipment should fit a wide range of body sizes rather than being standardized around the “average person.” From this understanding has come the science of ergonomics: the study of how to match people’s physical capacity to the needs of the job.99percentinvisible.org
I can’t write with either hand, so it makes little difference to me that I am lefthanded. Still, there is no denying that scissors conspire against me, that pliers and other hand-specific tools attempt to maim me and all of the projects I embark upon. There is little surprise that power tools terrify me. The guards are always on the wrong side of the blade. The handles on the wrong side of the cutting surface. Left-handers are maimed at a much higher rate than right-handed people because the tools are not designed for them to be held in the left hand. The amazing part of all of this is that we manage to thrive in spite of the barriers put in our way. Celebrate being in your right minds. Southpaws unite!