Wednesday, 12 August 2009


“I’m right-handed, whereas the fellow in my mirror is left-handed. I start shaving from the left; he starts from the right. Differences only in perception, but religious wars have been fought over such.” - Robert Brault

Today is International Left Handers’ Day! On the 13th of August 1992 the International Left Handers’ Club launched International Left-Handers Day, as an annual event that allows left-handers everywhere to celebrate their sinistrality and increase public awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed. This event is now celebrated worldwide, with many regional events to mark the day, including left-vs-right sports matches, left-handed tea parties, pubs that use left-handed corkscrews where patrons drink and play pub games with the left hand only, and nationwide "Lefty Zones" where left-handers’ creativity, adaptability and sporting prowess are celebrated, whilst right-handers are encouraged to try out everyday left-handed objects to see just how awkward it can feel using the wrong equipment!

These events have contributed more than anything else to the general awareness of the difficulties and frustrations left-handers experience in everyday life, and have successfully led to improved product design and greater consideration of our needs by the right-handed majority, although there is still a long way to go! Our language is a prime example of the prejudice that left-handers have had to deal with since the dawn of history. Left-handers have been linguistically abused for centuries! There are hundreds of (mainly abusive) terms for left-handers. There are a lot of phrases and sayings where “right” is good and “left” is bad eg, “being in your right mind”, it will be “all right in the end”, being “dexterous”, as against having “two left-feet”, “a left-handed compliment” (one that is not really meant!), a “sinister” purpose, being “gauche”, etc.

Here is an interesting test from the Club’s pages:

We all, of course, know in which hand we hold a pen, but how far does this bias extend throughout your body? Are you left-eared? Left eyed? Here is a simple test you can apply to yourself.

1. Imagine the centre of your back is itching. Which hand do you scratch it with?

2. Interlock your fingers. Which thumb is uppermost?

3. Imagine you are applauding. Start clapping your hands. Which hand is uppermost?

4. Wink at an imaginary friend straight in front of you. Which eye does the winking?

5. Put your hands behind your back, one holding the other. Which hand is doing the holding?

6. Someone in front of you is shouting but you cannot hear the words. Cup your ear to hear better. Which ear do you cup?

7. Count to three on your fingers, using the forefinger of the other hand. Which forefinger do you use?

8. Tilt your head over on to one shoulder. Which shoulder does it touch?

9. Fixate a small distant object with your eyes and point directly at it with your forefinger. Now close one eye. Now change eyes. Which eye was open when the fingertip remained in line with the small object? (When the other eye, the non-dominant one, is open and the dominant eye is closed, the finger will appear to move to one side of the object.)

10. Fold your arms. Which forearm is uppermost?

If you have always considered yourself to be right or left-handed you will probably now have discovered that your body is less than total in its devotion to its favoured side. If you are right-handed the chances are that you were not able to be 'right' 10 times.

Are you left handed or right-handed? Maybe you are ambidextrous? Tell us about it!


  1. I have almost always been ambidextrous. Then I had my CBT and ended up with left side neglect. But when I almost severed my little finger on my right hand a few years back and had to be in a cast fingertips to elbow for eight weeks I switched to re-training my left. Even began painting with my left hand.

    In short I am one confused puppy about which side is dominant.

  2. Right handed but going by the test I'm half n half.

  3. I'm a right hander and can't use my left hand at all to do any fine work.

  4. I am right-handed, but often use my left hand for various tasks in preference. The quiz says I'm 50-50!

  5. Well ... I didn't know that it was International Left Handers' Day!

    And you know that I consider myself very ambidextrous - but according to your tests, I'm almost exclusively left-handed ...

    Very interesting - thanks Nick!