Anything Left-Handed > Left Handers Club > LHC Newsletters > LHC Introduction > LHC Intro 3 Writing

Left-Handed Language, Teaching and Writing

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In this issue..

1. Left handed language
2. Teacher training and left-handed children
3. Writing left-handed

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1. Left handed language

We are often contacted by Members about words and phrases related to being left-handed in their language. It seems to have always been the case that any word that is used to mean “left-handed” has also come to mean something bad as well. From the Latin “sinister” to the French “gauche” and many more, it seems every country has its own lingual abuse for lefthanders!

What did we ever do to deserve all this?

left handed words and language

We have gone through all the emails and web site comments and updated our web page about lefty language recently and you can see some of the more “interesting” (!) ones below. If you have any other examples or know more about those shown on the web page please let us know.

  • The left hand in Hindi is called “Ulta Haanth”, which literally translates to the opposite, wrong, bad hand. So much has this permeated that most lefties don't realise what they're saying, and wind up using the phrase themselves
  • Hungarian language is quite straightforward:1

    Right – “Jobb” (also a synonym for better) comes from the word “Jo” which means good

    Left – “Bal” (also a synonym for bad, or used grammatically negative meaning to positive word, for example:

    Balszerencse – “Left” Luck = disaster

    Baleset – “Left” event = accident

    etc….you get the point

  • Portuguese “Canhoto” is a popular name for the Devil here in Portugal and there are many superstitions and even popular festivities in which Canhoto appears as the Devil himself, in rituals such as “queimar o Canhoto” (“burning the Canhoto”), in some regions, a kind of Halloween.

For lots more like this and other interesting lefty language information

See our web page on left handed language

Now we are going to start a search for positive references to left-handedness in language! A quick search in Google brings up things like:

  • Left-handed materials have a positive refractive index (not really what we meant!)
  • The only positive use of “left” I know of is that “aristocrat” has the Greek word for “left” in its root, but then Greece was the birthplace of democracy – they may not have meant “aristocrat” to be complimentary either.

There must be more – please let us know what you can find – add a comment to the Lefty Language page to let us know.

2. Teacher training and left-handed children

Left handed child at schoolOver many years we have been encouraging teacher training organisations to give more consideration to the requirements of left-handed children and providing information to help raise teachers’ awareness of the issues.   There are a few simple things teachers can do in the classroom to make a dramatic difference to left-handers in their early years at school and avoid problems as they develop through the education system.


These are basic things such as:

  • Sitting a left-handed child on the left side of writing areas so they do not bump elbows with the child next to them
  • Demonstrating a correct writing grip and encouraging an effective writing position
  • Having left-handed scissors available and know how to use them.
  • Understanding that left-handers will form some letters in a different direction to right-handers.

Unfortunately, we know from the huge amount of correspondence we get as well as responses to our surveys and comments on our website that these things do not happen as a matter of course.   Often it is only when the teacher is left-handed or the parents of the left-handed child really push for changes that the left-handed children get the proper advice and help they need.

Left handed writing at schoolUnderstanding the needs of left-handed children and how to help them is supposed to be a part of the Teacher Training Curriculum in the UK, but it seems to get little attention in practice.

When we included this item in a recent newsletter, we received a massive response and you can see our analysis of that and our follow up article here.

We are now moving on to a survey in schools to find out what is actually happening on the ground and then producing guidelines for parents to pass to their children's teachers as well as trying to get them circulated through teacher training and education authorities – watch out for updates in our LHC Newsletters.

3. Writing left-handed

Writing is something that can be a problem for left-handers of all ages as we have to push the pen or pencil across the page from left to right rather than pulling it like a right-hander. This can mean that the nib or point digs into the paper and we get no ink flow. Also, as our hand is following directly behind our writing, it can cause smudging and the familiar inky hand.

However, following some simple basic guidance on paper position, grip and writing posture plus making use of the specially designed left-handed pens and writing aids that are available can quickly solve all the issues and there is no reason us lefthanders should not be able to write as quickly and neatly as anyone else. Here are some links to the writing information and products on our web site:

Left handed writing challengesLeft handed writing problemsLeft handed writing solutions

Use this link to see our page of writing information and videos

Cartridge PensLeft handed nibStabilo left handed rollerballMaped Visio pen

Use this link to see our range of left-handed cartridge pens and and non-smudge pens

Handiwriter Writing AidsPencil gripsRulers, Sharpeners, Pencils, GripsLetter formation guide

Use these links for: * Writing aids, * Pencils, grips and sharpeners, * Writing guide books

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5 comments on “LHC Intro 3 Writing
  1. Margaret Laing says:

    Hello all! I loved this issue of the newsletter straightaway (a term I very much prefer to the American term “right away” for obvious reasons).
    As for the teaching/writing stories, I have a strong memory of arguing with my mother when she would try to show me things “backwards, so that you will understand.” What I struggled to make her understand was that I just watched opposite her, as if in a mirror, and figured the kitchen (or other) procedure that way. Before she got the idea about needing to do things backwards, I learned faster, and once we settled that I’d do the “translating,” we were fine.
    My sister and I still settle which person will sit on which side when we’re together, so we won’t bump elbows.
    In short, I think teachers should leave things to the lefties themselves until they ask for help! We’ve had years of figuring things out even before school, and they wonder why we’re “so creative!”

  2. GlennE. Yeager says:

    Are other of your left handed readers aware that:
    1. Most left handers are able to write their name upside down and backwards at the same time, Very few if any right handers are able to do it.
    2. There was a program on a few years ago about us left handers, They said:
    If a person is left handed and they are a only child, There is a high chance that sometime between conception and birth there was a twin or more that did not survive.

  3. William Duchie says:

    I have always been a “lefty” and educated as a Chemical Engineer at Washington State U. in Pullman, WA in 1962. As most engineers I used a pencil or mechanical pencil for the first few years until challenged by a Tech Manager to be more confident in my work and switch to ink in the late 60’s. Since then I have used a fountain pen, once in a while a ball point, for everything. It is possible for a “lefty” to do crossword puzzles, write letters, take notes, write checks, etc. with the writing surface in a very normal position and not get one’s hands any dirtier than a “righty”

    • Margaret Laing says:

      Bravo, William! I haven’t seen many ink-stained “righties” since my student days, but I’ll look for them now!

  4. Brendan Daly says:

    I have just started receiving your newsletters for left-handed people. I find them both informative and interesting. However, having been left-handed all my life I find the use of the terms ‘lefty’ or ‘lefties’ both derogatory and demeaning. I may be the only left-handed person that feels this way but, alas, I feel this is not the case. On a plus point please continue with your excellent service promoting left-handedness.

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