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Hmm ... question regarding handedness.

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Sia, May 19, 2013.

  1. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    So, for whatever reason, my world seems to have rather a lot of left-handed people. What effect would that simple detail of flipping the majority-handedness have? Given the origins of hand-shaking, I'm guessing they would shake with their left hands... but I may be wrong... I don't know. Language could be switched around to a certain degree (the direction of written language, the whole 'sinister' thing wouldn't work, right?)

    So any blatant missing things or blatant misfacts?
     
  2. The Unseemly

    The Unseemly Troubadour

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    Well, you might like to ask yourself this: are people, who are left handed, behave any differently from people who are right handed? Of course, they might hold their knife and fork the other way around, and write differently, but does being left-handed actually change the way you think, as of such?

    From my limited experience with people who are left-handed... they actually shake hands with their right hand, and they don't seem to have anything against it. I, as a right handed person, have shook hands with a person who is left handed, and didn't feel any difference.

    As far as language goes... well, do left-handed people speak backwards? Not really, or I'm pretty damn blind to what goes on in this world. Once more: does being left-handed change the way you think?

    I'm by not means an expert on this, but, if you want my honest opinion, I'd say this is blatant misfacts. I just don't see any very noticeable change between left- and right-handed people as far as thinking and society is concerned. Maybe minor things, but not exactly noticeable ones...
     
  3. TheokinsJ

    TheokinsJ Troubadour

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    If people in your world are left handed- a few things might change in terms of how warfare is also conducted, and how the layout of buildings are constructed. For example, in medieval times, it was common to have spiral stairs going up on the left because it meant that any attackers coming up the stairs (presumably right handed), would find it difficult to fight with a sword, because the wall in the way that would hinder them. The defenders on the other hand, could attack because the walls of the staircase were on their left, and, being right handed, they had more space to move their sword arm.
     
  4. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Lefties might also make it harder to work a shieldwall. Remember that line in 300, that a warrior stretches his shield over the man next to him? Instead of Shield-Fighter-Weapon-Shield-Fighter-Weapon-etc you've got a gap of

    Shield-Fighter-Weapon-Weapon-Fighter-Shield-Shield-Fighter-etc,

    that's both too crowded and too open. So warriors in a shieldwall society would be trained to fight right-handed.

    On the other hand, any recreationist fighter can tell you how tricky it is to fight a lefty in single combat, because he's used to your style, but everything he does is coming at you "from the wrong angle" where your shield isn't even on the proper side.
     
  5. Asura Levi

    Asura Levi Sage

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    Basically you can just invert the rule, all people, even right handed, would shake hands with their left and so on.
    And if the writing is horizontal and with ink, it would be wiser to write left-right, easier to avoid smudging(??) the fresh ink. But remember, in our world, we have right-left languages as are the romance languages, german, english, as well as right-left as are arab, jew, japanese (the later is vertical then left right).
    So in the end, it doesn't really matter.
     
  6. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    I addressed some of the combat issues in your post about right- vs. left-handed swords.
     
  7. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    About 10% of our world is left handed. They don't read or speak any differently than those who are right handed so I don't see why it should be different in your story. Now left-handed chemicals don't cooperate like the right handed ones but that's different, and I also don't completely understand it myself but, hey. :p

    Basically, the hand used to shake, write, eat and such doesn't effect any other part of life.
     
  8. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Interesting topic. The majority of the Fae in my novels are lefties -- kinda the inverse of the 90/10 ratio of righties to lefties in the real world. It's not a hugely important character trait, just one more way of making them different and "wrong" in the eyes of certain human characters who have learned to hate the Fae for various (totally justified) reasons. Though I imagine many of them would have trouble fighting against righties, since most of them would only be used to fighting other lefties. That would give the less-common right-handed Fae an advantage over them in combat, since they'd be used to fighting lefties too. As for right-handed humans fighting left-handed Fae, I'd think the advantages and disadvantages would balance each other out.
     
  9. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    @ The Unseemly: You do have to consider the history though. This isn't just "how do I write a left-handed character?" This is "how do I write a handedness-flipped society." We shake with our right hands because, originally, it was a demonstration and a sign of trust. The idea behind shaking with the right hand is that you're clasping dominant hands, so you can't reach for your weapon.

    Part of the reason "sinister", linking evil with left-handed (this is what I meant with the language rule), is that a leftie could clasp his acquaintance's dominant hand, leaving them defenseless, and also pull their weapon with their left hand, thus allowing them to stab their acquaintance, in a way a rightie couldn't. So, yes, I'm thinking everyone would shake with their left hand.

    Lefties don't have a problem with shaking with their right hand because they know the majority of the world is right-handed and is going to be set up to accommodate that. There is a world of difference between being left-handed in a right-handed society and being a left-handed person in a left-handed society.

    @TheokinsJ: So, how does that translate to left-handed fighting, again?

    @Worldwalker: Well, I have some notes somewhere. I appear to have two distinct main types of fighting styles. 'Kubesh' and 'Rhean' will do for now as temporary names. Something like 'Sword' and 'Shield' will do for now as translations. I can just see Rhean children being trained to be right-handed for completely different reasons than what we used to do in the grandparent's day.

    @AzuriaLevel: Mmm... but the desks would be set up for left-handed people right? (Well, unless you're a Rhean, I suppose.) How does that affect school rooms and such?

    @Malik: Yup, I saw. Thank you very much.

    @Addison: Because they fall in with the majority. They don't need to here. Architects, carpenters and so on are expecting left-handed people.

    @Ireth: Mmm... the 90/10 leftie: rightie ration sounds about right, as an inversion of the real world. As for right-handed humans fighting left-handed Fae, from your post, I would imagine that both Human and Fae end up metaphorically running in circles: All they've done is tire themselves out and got precisely nowhere!
     
  10. Tevaras

    Tevaras Minstrel

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    I think a lot of things would be different, some touched upon by other repliers.

    It is hard to imagine a world where the majority are left handed, because we live in a world where the majority are right handed. But as has been pointed out, 'things' would be designed for the most common handedness. Cutlery (if they have gotten as far as optimising this for handedness), spinning wheels, side doors are hinged on, etc. would be some other items that were 'opposite'.

    If I recall correctly, probably due to usage patterns, one side tends to be used for brute force type activities, the other side is better at delicate fine manipulation. If this is based on usage, you would find the left and right hand roles tend to be reversed compared to our society.

    I also wonder if horse would be trained to be mounted on the right side rather than the left. Possibly as the strongest arm for hauling yourself up is now the left, not the right as in our world.

    Continuing on with this thought train, jousting would also be done opposite. In a right handed society the right arm holds the lance across the horse, so the opponent passes you on your left side. In a left handed society it is plausibly the other way around.

    I certainly agree with the comment about writing right to left, for the same reasons: give ink time to dry without smudging.

    On the other hand there may be no noticeable differences, but I think it more than plausible that a lot of things will be the 'other way around'.

    Not that I have any formal physiological education in this, just thinking about things.
     
  11. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Actually, in a 90%-left world it sounds like basically everything flips; swords, writing (lefting?) desks, left-right metaphors, and all of it. (When I said shieldwallers would fight righthanded I was thinking of the would-be-lefties in a righthanded world, sorry.) The question is which things reverse in a way that matters and which would "be backwards but look the same."

    (I can think of one exception: clocks might still move in the direction we call clockwise, if they're inspired by sundials and how the shadow moves from upper right to upper left because the sun moves from southeast from southwest-- IF the sundials were first discovered by people in the northern hemisphere. Southern sundials move in the opposite direction. :) )
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
  12. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    Yup, I thought about the writing being reversed. It's just that I know this happens and tend to keep forgetting certain things while writing (like duh, Sia, they're pretty much all left-handed - what left-handed scissors?) so I intend to drill certain things into my head by writing a character who isn't used to all of this 'nonsense' so it's all very noticeable to her/him, and by extension, me. Said story would for my benefit because of important details that get left out and I need an exercise in y'know, not doing that. How would you go about optimising cutlery for left-handedness?

    We write from left-to-right because most people are right-handed, correct? How about the way books open? Is that affected by handedness? Isn't the way clothing is made, also affected by handedness? Really, I'm just taking this simple thing and seeing how it affects everything.
     
  13. Tevaras

    Tevaras Minstrel

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    Good evening Sia,

    some implements are often ergonomically made - e.g. to make them easier to use for people with arthritis - and naturally if they are ergonomically made then the intended hand to use the device makes a difference to the shape. Scissors are one implement I have seen optimised for a left hander.

    Interesting you mention clothes, the fly on trousers is clearly intended for a right hander, and should be the opposite way for a left hander.

    Tevaras

     
  14. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    So flies on the left-hand side. Shaking with the left hand and so on. And books open the way they do because of right-handers. Wow... so now you have books opening the right-handed way that we're used to being upside down all of a sudden. Good lord... and to think this all came about because lots of my characters popped into my head as left-handers ... just by chance.
     
  15. drkpyn

    drkpyn Scribe

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    Shirt buttons would be on the other side!
     
  16. Tevaras

    Tevaras Minstrel

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    Good morning Sia,

    if you look at a book in Hebrew (where writing is right to left) the spine is on the right (when closed) and you open it by grasping the top cover on the left and lifting over to the right.

    To give you an idea of all the items that would be different if you are left handed try the following experiment: pretend you do not have a right hand, and do things with your left: e.g. picking up a mug of beverage with your left hand, getting dressed with your left hand as the primary hand (this may be challenging), etc. Everything you instinctively do with your right hand, try doing with you left ... Have fun ;)
     
  17. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    Well, maybe not the dress one... I take long enough as it is!! I also instictively pick up a mug left-handed. Huh...? I open a book by simply grabbing both ends and pulling...
     
  18. Tevaras

    Tevaras Minstrel

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    Good evening Sia,

    to clarify: imagine Hebrew book is on the table. You would open the 'top' cover to the right, and start reading on the right hand page, right to left, then top to bottom. When finished with the page you would turn from left to right.

    I'm with you on the too long to dress, I have on occasions had to dress without the aid of a thumb (a little off topic I know) and that took longer than usual, even with two hands!

    Are you left handed if you reach for a mug with the left hand?

    Anyway, good luck with your thoughts on a left handed world.

    Have a good evening :).
     
  19. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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    I disagree... only because the buttons on men's shirts are on the opposite side of the buttons on a woman's blouse.
     
  20. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    Mmm ... the folklore explanation (not sure how true it is) is that men dress themselves and women are buttoned up in front by a maid....
     
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