[LMB] OT: language writing direction (was HANDEDNESS)

A. Marina Fournier saffronrose at me.com
Sat Sep 24 11:29:21 BST 2011

On Sep 23, 2011, at 6:09 AM, Harimad wrote:
> Both countries historically insisted on right-handed writing with brushes, which makes vertical text the logical choice.

Certainly. If a righthander is doing "wet" Western calligraphy/fancy writing with a pen, going L->R makes a lot of sense. If you're lefthanded, it makes more sense to go R->L, if only in terms of not smearing wet ink. However, in most countries where Arabic writing is standard, being lefthanded is not an easy thing, due to cultural prejudices/preconceptions. When I see a lefthander from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, from any of the Arabic-speaking countries, I usually ask what their experience in childhood had been once it was obvious they were left-handed. 

Given the perceived primary usage for that hand, reaching into a mutual snack bowl is "unclean". In my teens, we visited a Pakistani merchant vessel, and our hosts were visibly disturbed at my reaching for food with my left-hand. As it was, I stopped eating shortly thereafter when I spotted a beetle or two in the dish.  Which was more unclean, especially given that I don't use my left for bathroom purposed AND that I was my hands thoroughly after using the toilet.

One day when we were still living in Santa Cruz, and I was waiting for the summer day camp to finish, I fell to talking with an Indian or Sri Lankan man about his childhood as a lefty. He laughed, and said he was considered retarded, but that he had done very well in college (ITT?), and went on to make more money than any of his siblings.

A. Marina Fournier
SaffronRose at me.com
It is high time that we stopped thinking politically as Republicans and Democrats about elections and started thinking patriotically as Americans about national security based on individual freedom. It is high time that we all stopped being tools and victims of totalitarian techniques — techniques that, if continued here unchecked, will surely end what we have come to cherish as the American Way of Life.

Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1965) American politician (US Senator, Maine)
“Declaration of Conscience,” Congressional Record, vol. 96, 81st Congress, 2d. sess. (1 Jun 1950)

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