Anything Left-Handed > Blog Posts > Newsletter articles > August 2010 > Lefties around the world

Lefties around the world

left handers worldWe had a lot of responses to our recent email from lefties all round the world wanting to participate in some way in our newsletters. We thought it would be good to feature a short article each month from a member in a different part of the world telling us about their experiences and how lefties get on in their country. If you would be willing to share your thoughts, please contact us using this form and attach your article as a text file plus send us a picture of yourself and any other relevant images.

Tell us about:

  • Words for left-handed and left-handed people and any alternative meanings they have
  • Your experiences as a lefty at school and work and whether people have been supportive and helpful to you
  • Any interesting experiences you have had that relate to your handedness
  • Anything else you think other member may be interested in

We look forward to hearing from you and sharing with other members.

We have produced a big page of information about left-handed language and these are some of the most recent comments on it:

  • Adolfo says – Here in Venezuela we often use the term mocho” to refer to a lefty, or la mocha”, to refer to the left hand. Mocho” would roughly translate as maimed”, or awkward, clumsy” or stuff like that, and la mocha” would be something like the maimed (hand)”.
  • We have a had a lot of interest in this page and loads of comments from people sent by email so we will keep adding to the content. We ARE still struggling to find positive language references to lefthanders though – can you help?
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104 comments on “Lefties around the world
  1. Kim says:

    My parents are both right-handed, but one of my sisters, my brother and myself are left-handed (at least for writing!), but only 1 of the 4 of us siblings is right-handed!!! I’ve always thought that was ODD, but FANTASTIC!!!!
    I also have found that it takes some people a long time, sometimes many YEARS (in some cases!) to realise I’m left-handed.
    I can write and read backwards, and read upside down!! useful skills!!
    In high school, my left-handed friend and I would swap notes, written backwards; but then one note was half forwards and half backwards, and it took me ages to realise, as I could read it all!
    I’ve started noticing in films and on tv, when a character has to write anything that a lot of actors are left-handed; us lefties are so creative!!!

  2. nichelle says:

    i am 30 and very proud to be left-handed. i grew up in a family with two left-handed sisters, a left-handed aunt, my maternal grandfather was and my mother is ambidextrous.
    My boyfriend is left-handed as well. We do have issues with sitting next to eachother while eating though, since i always switch the fork to the right while using a knife and he doesn’t.
    In kindergarten my teacher had no idea i was a lefty until four months into the school year. During a parent-teacher conference she told my mom i couldn’t cut staight. My mom asked why they didn’t have the lefty scissors for me, the teacher was embarrassed and finally stopped torturing me in front of the whole class with these horrible scissors that the teacher(s) can use with the student(s). She used to make the class gather around and watch(almost daily) while i put my hand in the scissors with her and she jerked my arm around trying to hurt and embarrass me. At five i knew this was pointless(in my learning) since i couldn’t even see what we were cutting and i wasn’t embarrassed because i told her many times that i needed the green handled scissors that weren’t available in the class(the red handled ones were for righties).
    Before i discovered left-handed notebooks, i used to start them from the back. i taught myself to write backwards and backwards & upside-down with ease. My hand writing switches between being hooked to the proper way including when i sign my name.
    i have learned over the years to appreciate my right hand, it has some vital duties like holding things so i can use my left hand for more important things like unlocking and opening doors.

  3. maggie says:

    In regards to Benten’s problem. If he holds the pen an inch to an inch and a half up from the end of the pen he won’t smudge and he’ll be able to see what he is writing.
    I was brought up in the 40’s being left-handed but luckily for me I had a fantastic teacher who taught me to write properly so I wouldn’t smudge my work. When people see my hand writing they cannot believe that I’m left handed as I write so neatly, I even won a hand writing competition in the Daily Telegraph at 15 years old. It’s a shame we can’t have more understanding teachers like mine who take the time to help you.

    • nichelle says:

      That is a wonderful tip, Maggie. Thank You for sharing, i’ve never thought about trying to hold my hand a little higher on the writing utensil. i will have to make a conscious effort to try that.

  4. Benten says:

    thank you for this site!! i am the only member of my immediate family who is a leftie it was hard i take forever tying my shoes, i have awful writing but i am in my elementary school the top 3 smartest kids in my grade were lefties (i was one) now in high school i am like the only leftie and my Gym teachers gets all annoyed she has to teach me the leftie way for things. i think lefties are the best (surprisingly lol) and we need more credit cause when people realize i am a leftie they just stare they act all gosh you’re weird. 😀 and thanks to this site i no longer think it is just me unable to do certain things like shake hands, write, tie shoes and hug. I am not sure if this applies to others but I still find it IMPOSSIBLE to write and not smudge my hand to deaht ( though by now it is pretty much immune to it)

  5. Adiba says:

    Hello, you special people. I grew up in Nigeria and I had heard of all those ‘tying of hands to the backs stories’. Thankfully I did not experience that. However I got a lot of flak from some of my relatives and some of my high school teachers. It was considerd disrespectful to give/receive things with the left hand and I was often scolded and I also got into a lot of unnecessary arguments as a result. However because we lefties were few and far between the people that understood us considered us special and unique (smiles). I will see if i can mirror write,read upside down e.t.c. That would be interesting.
    Presently I am in d U.K and I can relate with Michelle who says she uses her card with her left hand and ends up letting someone else through d barrier. Now,I know not to feel stupid if that happens to me again(laughs).

  6. Kelly says:

    I’m 18 and and left handed. I’m also the only person in my family to be a lefty- sometimes they don’t understand. I use a computer right-handed, with the mouse in my right hand, because I was little when computers were first becoming common use and I was taught that way. I also eat with my fork in my left hand and knife in my right, but there is some debate in my family which is the ‘correct’ way. Sometimes my bread or cheese ends up with a wedge but I’m learning how to stop that happening when only right-handed tools are available.
    I too get frustrated with handbags that zip the wrong way, and am always delighted when I find ones that are the same on both sides.
    I don’t use notebooks with rings because they are incredibly annoying, I always make my wrist ache when writing in them. I write in the ‘hook’ style, but it’s worked for me for this long so I’ll carry on writing that way. In fact, I’m even studying for a degree in Journalism!

  7. Tracy - South Africa says:

    At 42, I am the only lefty in my family – neither of my parents nor grandparents were left-handed. I fortunate enought to have my guitar strung left-handed for me. I was excellent at playing Left wing on the hockey field. My dad always shouted at me for cutting the bread scew everytime. There are very few left products available in South Africa. I also do not have a credit card which makes purchases from your website impossible. People at work can’t understand how I have my desk positioned specially for a Lefty. I get frustrated with kettles and their cords, or even cordless ones that only have the glass level for right handed people. I usually write from back to front in my books. I get frustrated with handbags that zip the wrong way (you land up with nice side of the bag facing your body so that you can have the zip to the front of your body for safety… but, I am very proud of being left.

  8. Julie says:

    I am 40 and live in the US. My daughter (7) is the 3rd generation of lefty women. My mom taught me to be proud of my lefthandedness, and I learned to spot a lefty in a crowd. I usually say something.

    Growing up, I never had any trouble with being left handed. (Other being being marked down for poor handwriting). Until college. Many of our classrooms had the little 1/2 desks that were on the right hand side. I would make sure I got to class early to get a lefty one (most rooms had one or two) or a full size one. If I didn’t get one, I would put my notebook on my left knee and right on the “wrong” side of the paper.

    In my Language Arts for teachers, I had to complete an entire primary printing and cursive book. My teacher (a lefty) marked me down for not slanting the correct way—after telling the class that lefties don’t usually slant the same ways as righties.

    I wear my watch on my left wrist. I use my mouse on the right (like many other, I can take notes while I mouse). I use right handed scissors. (I’ve never had the opportunity to try any other than the old metal school scissors with “LEFTY” carved in them.) I’m not much of an athlete, but when I bowl or play tennis (or even use my Wii), I’m a switch hitter.

    My mom was a nurse for a long time. She used lefty nursing scissors—not because she needed to. (She uses right handed scissor for quilting). She used lefties at work because if anybody borrowed them, they brought them back very quickly! They had no idea how to use them!

  9. Gurry Gudfinns says:

    Such a joy to read everyone ´s input and I relate to many of the things you have been going through.
    Scissors always caused a problem for me as a child, my father got me a very expensive but excellent pair from Finland called Fiskas and I had it for many years until someone in the family used it for cutting a wire 🙁
    I have had other left handed scissors since but right handed people always damage them for me, I would love to see a clear sign printed that would prevent others from using my pair.
    Has anyone had problems with knitting or crochet? My mother taught me both by sitting opposite to me so that she could instruct me in a way she knew how to knit or crochet.
    At work I use the mouse with right hand because I can take notes with my left when speaking on the phone. This took a while to get used to but I can multitask that way.
    I have been thinking of playing golf but am really worried that any instructor will give up on me! Any comments on golf?
    Never had any problems in school with teachers or other students and always had my way when requesting to sit on the left side when 2 students would share a desk.
    My grandmother had problems in school though, the teacher would actually tie her left hand on her back so she would not use it for writing, always makes me angry when thinking about it.
    Greeting to all left handers everywhere

    • Vee says:

      You mentioned learning golf – it can be hard for lefties to find trainers capable of teaching any new sport, and to find a good choice of equipment (especially to hire until you know what you want to buy). And it’s even worse if you’re not a standard size: try asking for 3/4 sized lefty clubs in the golf shop!

  10. Heather says:

    I am in Australia, and being now just over 60 I went to school when it must have been against the law to be left handed! well that on looking back is how it seems to me, not one teacher ever let me be what I was, which was a lefty, I was very good at art if the teacher was not watching as I would use my left hand, if they made me hold the brush or what ever it was in my right hand it became the worst piece of art in the class, I used to enjoy art and would try to sit up the back so I could see the teacher coming and I would always have a lot of work done but be sitting contemplating my work with the implement in my right hand, but never put one mark on the paper while the teacher watched, I would measure or mix colours or do anything to try and save my art from being ruined by my right hand.

    My writing was a mess and I was made fun of or called out the front of the class to show everyone how messy I was, if I sneaked the pen into my left hand I smudged the paper any way so I could not win.
    I can read and write mirror writing and sometimes write backward on the page and have no trouble reading it back, I can also read very quickly anything that is upside down, I used to read the newspaper someone had in front of me on the bus going to work, or even read their book upside down.
    When I found that our 2 eldest children were left handed we made certain that they had scissors and other things to make their life easier, including teachers that fully understood that they were left handed and that they would be staying that way, they had a few problems with sporting equipment but they were inventive enough to work around it.
    Did you know that sewing machines are made for right handed people only and it can be dangerous to use if you are left handed.
    I am extremely left handed the only thing I can do independently with my right hand is move the mouse on a computer, this means i can make notes with my left hand, very handy when in a hurry.
    To do other things I need to move my left hand to guide my right to mirror it. I am a percussionist in a band and my left hand has to move at the same pace as my right to keep it going, and I have to set the drum kit up back to front, so I don’t ever accept a gig where I cant set up my own kit, other players really don’t like you moving theirs around.
    In general growing up as a lefty in a righty world had many challenges but both myself and my husband survived, he did but had many bruises from teachers rulers.
    My mum found me a pair of left scissors in 1957 they were imported from some where England I think just for me, they were a bit big but great to use and I still have them.

  11. veron says:

    mmmhhh….hope u are all well….
    i also have problems with cutting using the scissors actually when i was in secondary school it was one reason i left the sewing class coz i couldnt cut th cloth well….but i thank God i managed through and can use the scissor now days though not very well…

  12. Nikita says:

    Being an athlete,I always feel like running round the track the other way.Since I am a sprinter I dont have an issue running the 100m because its a straight stretch,but when it comes to the 200m,since this race is half an olympic stadium,i have to cross a curve where I always lose out.I feel like im losing balance.I won gold medals for the 100m sprint but because I couldn’t do the 200m my coach didnt let me compete for it again.
    Also,I am an ice skater and I find jumps and spins very difficult to do clockwise.I was taught that way ,but eventually I decided to do them anti-clockwise.It took a lot of practice but I got it and my spins were faster and my jumps higher.When I skate solo I do it anti-clockwise but if I’m with someone else I have to do it the other way to avoid an assymetric programme.
    I am half middle eastern and half indian and in both cultures,things would rather be done with the right hand.Thus I’ve had trouble trying to convince my violin master that its pretty much the same thing if I play the other way.But he gets throughly confused watching me play 😀

  13. Melody/USA says:

    I had many of the same problems as most of you. My mom is a lefty one of my older brothers is a lefty and the other brother was switched when he was younger. I’ve always hated using knives. To this day (I’m 30) I will ask someone to cut things for me because I can never hold the knife correctly. It’s also funny that when I was in kindergarten, my teachers would try to teach me to tie my shoes (all righties) I never learned until my cousin who is also left-handed showed me how to do it. Also I wanted to learn how to tie a tie. The only person I knew who could do it was my dad who is a rightie. I never could get it. The only thing that helped was one day while he was tieing his tie, I watched him in the mirror. It was like a lightbulb went off. I can now tie a tie.

  14. Pete says:

    The last year I was at school I got a job in the post office helping with the Christmas post. I got banned from helping to sort the letters though because the ones I sorted were all upside down compared with everyone else!

  15. Jessie says:

    I’m the only left-hander in the family (except for my dad, but he was forced to learn everything with his right hand at an early age). The biggest issues I’ve experienced were with elementary school teachers (I went to a private Christian school as a young’un–they were quite strict, and I’d had my wrist smacked several times in first grade–until my dad had a talk with the teacher). Other than that, cameras, scissors, washing dishes (the drainer is on the wrong side because of the kitchen layout), general awkwardness, and most recently the decidedly right-handed setup at my new job (front desk attendant at a motel). The only thing I’ve been able to adapt to is using the mouse on the right side.

  16. Leonie says:

    Unfortunately things aren’t improving at the rate they should. My eldest son started school just 4 years ago and his teacher told me I should teach him to cut right handed ‘to avoid so many problems in the future’. I replied that I had survived just fine. Thankfully she has now retired and I hope that many with attitudes like hers are also disappearing from education.

  17. Michelle says:

    I’m very lucky as when I was at school the teachers helped me learn to write with my left hand, but I’m still useless with scissors!
    One thing that really annoys me though is the London Underground, I automatically put my ticket in my back left pocket and when I take it out to put it in the machine to get out of the underground I often insert it into the barrier control machine to my left which means I get stuck on the barrier and I’ve let someone else through the barrier next to me, always embarrassing explaining to a guard what I’ve just done!

  18. Helen says:

    Dear All,

    Being a leftie and my husband too, but none of either family, we are glad to have finally found like-minded people and live happily in our leftie world. We have bought serious amounts of kitchen implements for lefties – knives, scissors, pastry forks etc. We have turned fridge doors around to open correctly for us. We have purchased as many cordless electrical appliances as possible, however this is where manufacturers seriously fall short in choice. Kettles – choice good, drills etc – good, hair irons – not so good, white appliances – improving (can move doors on fridge, not on washing machines, and most recently frustrating irons – choice of 3!! Cords get in the way when ironing lefty style. And what about cameras, and video recorders, all the moulding for hands and eyepieces are for right handed/sighted people, it’s very awkward.

    We are 10% of the population where’s our choice?

  19. Sherri says:

    I had a horrific time in school. The school system had a policy of no tolerance for righthanded students. My first grade teacher broke two of the knuckles on my left hand. My parents ,both righthanded, were livid. They demanded I be allowed to use my left hand, and that caused a great deal of strife in my school years. By the time I reached high school, it wasn’t as bad. I struggled with appliances that were ‘backwards’, lab equipment in class, etc. It’s a testament to all of us that we even survive to adulthood! I worked in the medical field, where the instruments and monitoring equipment were designed for right handers. I haven’t gotten too many negative verbal comments, but lots of complaints came from my grandmothers’, both right handed. They felt I was just ‘lazy’ and could use my right hand , should I apply myself.

    As for whether we are more emotional, sensitive, etc. I don’t think so, I think that sometimes we just are so worn out from trying to cope and adapt that we just release a lot of frustration at the world at large.

    I live in the western US.

  20. jim says:

    i think it is a bunch of baloney about left hander’s being more moody. i am a taurus and i think i am more to being a taurus. i get moody just like everyone else. i just like everyone else left or right handed have bad and good days. i live in the u.s.a in north carolina.

  21. Carlos says:

    Dear all,
    I am lefty too and when refurbished the kitchen I made all cupboards to open from right to left, drawers on the left hadn side, the wardrobe in the bedroom also opens the left door first, electric appliances are on the left hand side not to mention all the items I have bought from you. And the computer-work desk has also being made so I can use the left hand side of it to write etc

  22. Carlos says:

    Dear all
    I am also lefty and when renewed my kitchen I placed the drawers on the left hand side, the cupboards are open “our side”, my computer-work desk also made with the working space on the left, the doors of the wardrobe open left side first, electrical appliances are on the left hand side, not to mention all the items I have bought from you.

  23. Tom says:

    Being a bit sickly and fragile as a child, I guess, helped me to go through school without my teacher worrying about my left-handedness. I am from the country of Belize in Central America. At present I am the Principal of an elementary school. This year will make me ten years as the principal. Before working at this school, I taught Art and English at a high school.

  24. veron says:

    Hei guys its a beautiful day…mhhhh..! for many years lefthandedness has associated with a lot of mystery through out the world…. but let me tell u…there is no need to fell bad coz we are in a certain way unique…and a sophisicated design of God…let me tell u one unique thing with me when using the computer …i cant handle the mouse with my left hand basically coz its designed for the right handed but i do it with ease but if using a laptop…my dominant side is in control…and if it comes to speed when writting if u are right handed u cant compete with me… there fore am thankful to God…for am unique..there fore guys cheer up sit down and think of something unique u can do different from those who think that use their normal hands..and for those f u with left handed children….encourage them coz they have great potential… veron uganda.

  25. Kerry, says:

    I am 46 and spent the first day of school being smacked across the hand with the side of a ruler here in Australia. Thankfully after my parents saw the bruises that night they took the step to make the teacher keep me a lefty. I was the only one in the class and in my family. I grew up, I confess, with low esteem because I was always roused on for being ‘not normal’ or a nuisance. Ball game comps at school was a time when I was bashed up just about or scolded with words because when i got the ball and had to run up or down the row i always ran down the natural side for me, i took off left and our team was disqualified. I dropped bantons a lot running in relay teams so ended up not getting picked because I had trouble taking the batons from others on the right because they ran passed me that way. I bumped elbows all my life just about and the seats at University were desked for right handers.. despite that though, I love being left handed. I love the art and the ability to be such a good problem solver. I think our brains work all the time because they have to continually shift and think and adjust so we can do all we can do in this right handed world. As an adult I have discovered that the eldest child born to each family for four generations on my mum’s side has always been a left hander. My eldest daughter is the first right hander for generations and my nieces have come and they are left handed so the next genetation has the lefties back except for my Mandy. She married a lefty though…
    Here in Australia not a lot of focus is given to left handed people. We have one shop in Sydney who sells some products for us but in the town where I live, no one in town sells left handed scissors for children and I have taken myself off in recent years to get a teaching degree so I am on a campaign here to address left handed children’s needs in classrooms. From Anything Lefthanded, I bought rulers and gave them this year to three grade five boys, do you know, they treasure them and one only said to me last week, ‘Miss, this is the best present anyone has ever given to me, I love it!’ So I want to get packs done up for each classroom because the left handed children are not considered, indeed, they are just expected to either do it right handed or do your best. I work with grade one children at the moment to help them with their letter formations as I sit with my niece also because her parents are right handed and do not know how or where to start to help her. I do not blame right handers – I think it just never occurs to them the adjustments we have to make every day, they don’t take any notice of us. The only right handers that take notice of me are those who have lived with me and therefore have some awareness.
    I recently saw a left hander cutting lettuce and thought, ‘that’s what I look like!’
    Everything is right handed in our part of the world as it is elsewhere, some things I have no choice over but I think we left handers have a better ability to do well with our right hands when we need to than right handers can do with their lefts when they need to. Our brains are great! I am going to make my own mug though, they are all right handed! the little pictures are great inside, if you use your right hand…..I know there are some left handed mugs out there but I don’t like some of the words and I like the creative stuff-like a dragons face on my left side or a little picture/character inside the lip so that i can see it when i use my left hand….i have one that i have had since i was 17 and i don’t use it now because it is crazing and i don’t want to lose it but it does have a great message, “The right hand side of the brain controls the left hand side of our bodies so left handers are the only people in their right minds!” Isn’t that great…..have fun my friends….
    Did you know that once a lady told me that if I was to learn how to sign to her deaf son I would have to do it as a right hander because if i lead out ‘speaking’ to him with m left hand first, the words would be back the front for the boy? Gosh, it was such a surprise…
    I think we are amazing people, and brilliant…..who loves mirror writing? I had the pleasure of seeing first hand one of Leonardo da Vinci’s booklets when I was in Dublin a couple of years ago and I loved knowing that unlike many people in the room, I could read every word he had written and, I understood it! Aren’t we great!!

    • veron says:

      hello kerry…., its nice to hear that.. i used to think that those problems are only on this side of the earth …but thank fully these days in our schools they are putting provisions for left handed students… and people are begining to appreciate lefties in other fields like the army and sports .

  26. bat says:

    hi I’m Mongolian. We should be grateful to our parents we the left handed people r very unique

  27. Hannah says:

    I am an 11 year old girl and I am a proud left hander. I am extremely grateful to grownup when I did, as I am a writer. During this past summer I’ve been trying to teach myself to write right-handed- just for fun. Although more convenient at times, it’s defintely not half as fun!!

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