I’m a southpaw, a leftie, gibble fisted and dolly pawed, to name just a very few of the titles bestowed on people like me. I am also possibly even a witch, I am certainly sinister! I’m thought to be more creative, have more special awareness and be less analytical than my right handed brothers and sisters. I would like to point out that I am also perceived to have a one point higher IQ than my right-handed counterparts (my colleagues might disagree though!) I’m left handed.
Negative connotations have always surround the word ‘left’. ‘A left handed compliment’ is considered to be unpleasant and insulting, and in French the word ‘gauche’ not only means left but is also used to mean socially awkward and clumsy. The Romans thought that being left handed was unlucky. The Latin for ‘left’ is ‘sinister’, and the modern meaning of the word carries connotations of something of evil design, with undercurrents of menace. In contrast, ‘dexter’ which means ‘right’ gives to the English language the words dexterity and dextrous, meaning skilful.
So as today is National Left Handers’ day, it made me think about what documents we hold here in The National Archives regarding this different, but I like to think slightly superior, ‘affliction’.